CBO: 2016 ObamaCare enrollment to fall short of projections by … 8 million

posted at 8:01 pm on January 26, 2016 by Ed Morrissey

Get ready to have expectations for ObamaCare managed downward … again. The Congressional Budget Office issued a new estimate for the next decade under the Affordable Care Act that lowers the enrollment projection by 40% in 2016. In fact, according to the CBO, next year’s enrollment is now expected to barely grow at all from 2015:

ObamaCare will enroll significantly fewer people than expected in 2016, ending the year with about 13 million customers, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said Monday.

The figure, which was included in an expansive budget report, is a decline of about 40 percent from last year’s enrollment prediction of about 20 million people.

The latest projections confirm the Obama administration’s previous assessment that fewer people are signing up as the marketplace closes in on its third enrollment season — the final one under President Obama.

The CBO offers this projection on page 21 of its analysis:

Similarly, subsidies that help people who meet income and other eligibility criteria to purchase health insurance through exchanges and to meet their cost-sharing requirements, along with related spending, are expected to increase by $18 billion in 2016, reaching a total of $56 billion. The higher spending reflects an anticipated increase in the number of people expected to receive subsidies for coverage purchased through exchanges. CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimate that about 11 million people will receive exchange subsidies, on average, during calendar year 2016, compared with an average of 8 million in 2015. Additionally, the agencies project that about 2 million other people will purchase coverage through an exchange but will not be eligible for subsidies—for a total of 13 million people, on average, enrolled in policies purchased through exchanges.

It’s not until readers turn to page 69 — and read a footnote — that the disparity between previous projections and their new predictions become apparent:

Previously, CBO and JCT projected that an average of about 15 million people per month would receive exchange subsidies in 2016 and that an additional 6 million people would purchase unsubsidized coverage through an exchange, bringing the total number of people enrolled in coverage purchased through exchanges in any given month to 21 million, on average. Most of the unsubsidized people who are no longer expected to purchase insurance through an exchange are expected to purchase insurance directly from an insurer instead.

Will they? Or will they just purchase insurance when they actually need it and exploit the must-issue mandate on insurers?

Defenders of ObamaCare argue that the program has still succeeded in lowering number of uninsured Americans. However, millions of people got their previous coverage canceled, forcing them into the exchanges, so a significant percentage of the 13 million represent a reshuffled status quo rather than an improvement. Furthermore, Democrats pushed for this policy by arguing that having 40 million or more uninsured Americans constituted a crisis that required overhauling a market that covered 88% of Americans in 2007. Having forced six-to-ten million of those Americans to buy needlessly expensive and inefficient coverage isn’t success — it demonstrates that the solution applied to that problem has failed, all while causing enormous damage to the market it “reformed.”


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Defenders of ObamaCare argue that the program has still succeeded in lowering number of uninsured Americans. However, millions of people got their previous coverage canceled, forcing them into the exchanges, so a significant percentage of the 13 million represent a reshuffled status quo rather than an improvement.

“However” suggests you think your second sentence above somehow contradicts the first. It doesn’t. The uninsured rate dropped. That some of the insured may have flipped from exchange-insured to employment-insured (or vice versa) has no effect on that.

Tlaloc on January 26, 2016 at 8:13 PM

Tialic, you’re hilarious..and wrong..as usual.

CWforFreedom on January 26, 2016 at 8:15 PM

it demonstrates that the solution applied to that problem has failed, all while causing enormous damage to the market it “reformed.”

Given that it has significantly decreased the uninsured rate and has not actually caused ‘enormous damage’ of any kind your conclusion is flawed. But if you insist that only a solution that 100% fixes the problem is acceptable then single payer here we come.

Tlaloc on January 26, 2016 at 8:17 PM

Tialic, you’re hilarious..and wrong..as usual.

CWforFreedom on January 26, 2016 at 8:15 PM

Except what I wrote is not only right it’s obviously right to anyone who can read English and understands the difference between insured and uninsured.

I apologize for highlighting your deficiencies like that.

Tlaloc on January 26, 2016 at 8:18 PM

Enabled by Fox News and BillbO’reily who did every Obama interview with kid gloves and yuk, yuk.

Now the debt has come due.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 26, 2016 at 8:19 PM

Tlalack your pants have never been zipped up!

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 26, 2016 at 8:20 PM

Tlalack your pants have never been zipped up!

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 26, 2016 at 8:20 PM

Not my fault you guys keep salivating over an obamacare disaster that’s never happened.

Tlaloc on January 26, 2016 at 8:23 PM

Trump will save it.

kcewa on January 26, 2016 at 8:23 PM

I apologize for highlighting your deficiencies like that.

Tlaloc on January 26, 2016 at 8:18 PM

Just because you say it…doesn’t make it so. Sorry…hon.

CWforFreedom on January 26, 2016 at 8:24 PM

Just because you say it…doesn’t make it so. Sorry…hon.

CWforFreedom on January 26, 2016 at 8:24 PM

Of course not, logic and reason make it so, I’m just pointing it out to you.

Tlaloc on January 26, 2016 at 8:26 PM

Oh and the goal post moving…priceless.

CWforFreedom on January 26, 2016 at 8:27 PM

Poor Tialoc…blabbering on like an idiot…hope…again…you’re getting paid.

CWforFreedom on January 26, 2016 at 8:28 PM

Those Obama-Benedict-Robertscare didn’t drive broke in 2015 it will in 2016.

Enjoy your doubled, tripled or quadrupled premiums!

viking01 on January 26, 2016 at 8:34 PM

Poor Tialoc…blabbering on like an idiot…hope…again…you’re getting paid.

CWforFreedom on January 26, 2016 at 8:28 PM

Since I’m at work right now, yes I am.

Tlaloc on January 26, 2016 at 8:35 PM

The “uninsured” rate has dropped only because of the taxpayers picking up the tab for 10 million new Medicaid patients. Medicaid is not insurance. Like the HHS “public service” says, it is “free or low cost health coverage” that the taxpayers fund. As I hear everyday in the ER: “Where is my free stuff?”. The twisting of reality and daily waves of propaganda done by Government lackeys is disgusting.

brindle on January 26, 2016 at 8:35 PM

look, these things are hard to predict

and if it’s 40% off, that means it’s 60% correct

nonpartisan on January 26, 2016 at 8:40 PM

And the death spiral accelerates…

d1carter on January 26, 2016 at 8:40 PM

look, these things are hard to predict

and if it’s 40% off, that means it’s 60% correct

nonpartisan on January 26, 2016 at 8:40 PM

A good solid D-

kcewa on January 26, 2016 at 8:47 PM

Who knew that Going Galt would start with Obamacare, whether people mean to or not. And once one big rule is broke, the dam is open to question all the others … this could get rather interesting …

smokeyblonde on January 26, 2016 at 8:51 PM

look, these things are hard to predict

and if it’s 40% off, that means it’s 60% correct

nonpartisan on January 26, 2016 at 8:40 PM

Ah, yes, drooling morons….

When premiums decline y’all are going to be pissed!
libfreeordie on May 7, 2014 at 10:18 AM

RL on January 26, 2016 at 8:51 PM

Since I’m at work right now, yes I am.

Tlaloc on January 26, 2016 at 8:35 PM

Pushing a mop in an adult theater, no doubt….

viking01 on January 26, 2016 at 8:51 PM

look, these things are hard to predict

and if it’s 40% off, that means it’s 60% correct

nonpartisan on January 26, 2016 at 8:40 PM

A good solid D-

kcewa on January 26, 2016 at 8:47 PM

That’s an A+ in Harvard speak.

RickB on January 26, 2016 at 8:52 PM

Will they? Or will they just purchase insurance when they actually need it and exploit the must-issue mandate on insurers?

This was my plan when unemployed for 5 months. And no – I am NOT ashamed of it as already paid $49k in taxes for those 5 months. And another $40k since. For the math challenged/libs: that $87K in just federal taxes in 2015.

I’m thinking I’m good for taking advantage of the system for once.

smokeyblonde on January 26, 2016 at 8:55 PM

“However” suggests you think your second sentence above somehow contradicts the first. It doesn’t. The uninsured rate dropped. That some of the insured may have flipped from exchange-insured to employment-insured (or vice versa) has no effect on that.

Tlaloc on January 26, 2016 at 8:13 PM

Uninsured rate has been on the rise again, according to Gallup.

The uninsured rates are now just a mere 2.5% lower than where they were in Q3 2008- well before ObamaCare and in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression.

So ObamaCare hasn’t even broken the margin of error on the uninsured rate with pre-ObamaCare

I would call that a “nothingburger” if it didn’t cost trillions of dollars. But we can agree it’s a failure.

Chuck Schick on January 26, 2016 at 9:00 PM

No point in making A-pluses at Harvard anymore…they’ll hide those along with Obama’s F-minuses…

viking01 on January 26, 2016 at 9:01 PM

$87K = $89k

OK – so I’m keyboard-challenged … you’re point?!? :)

smokeyblonde on January 26, 2016 at 9:02 PM

“However” suggests you think your second sentence above somehow contradicts the first. It doesn’t. The uninsured rate dropped. That some of the insured may have flipped from exchange-insured to employment-insured (or vice versa) has no effect on that.

Tlaloc on January 26, 2016 at 8:13 PM

The fools come out defending the failure of Obamacare. The price paid in dollars and destruction of healthcare for the majority was not a success no matter how you explain it. Even your queen Hillary admits it now.

tej on January 26, 2016 at 9:02 PM

Chuck Schick on January 26, 2016 at 9:00 PM

Worse yet, even those with POS Obamacare are facing about a $7000.00 deductible should they dare use it.

Tripled premiums for practically no real-world coverage compared to what had preceded it at half the cost or better and typically a deductible of one or two thousand.

viking01 on January 26, 2016 at 9:05 PM

If you think Obamacare costs a large amount of money, freedom and jobs. JUST WAIT FOR TRUMPCARE, so rich we cannot afford it!

Constitutionalist on January 26, 2016 at 9:10 PM

If you think Obamacare costs a large amount of money, freedom and jobs. JUST WAIT FOR TRUMPCARE, so rich we cannot afford it!

Constitutionalist on January 26, 2016 at 9:10 PM

Serious question: How could it be worse?

smokeyblonde on January 26, 2016 at 9:16 PM

Trump will save it.

kcewa on January 26, 2016 at 8:23 PM

Yes he will.

Dreadloc…what a moron.

22044 on January 26, 2016 at 9:24 PM

Serious question: How could it be worse?

smokeyblonde on January 26, 2016 at 9:16 PM

Obamacare has covered the easiest couple million people. Trump will cover everybody regardless of cost. It will be at least 10 times more costly. It can be very much worse.

Constitutionalist on January 26, 2016 at 9:39 PM

We had to pass this monstrosity because forty-six million people were dying in the streets due to a lack of health insurance. Where are they?

Occams Stubble on January 26, 2016 at 9:43 PM

Obamacare has covered the easiest couple million people. Trump will cover everybody regardless of cost. It will be at least 10 times more costly. It can be very much worse.

Constitutionalist on January 26, 2016 at 9:39 PM

While I agree, isn’t this already in Obamacare which he unilaterally postponed?

When everything in O’care is finally implemented is 2017-2020, is that cost more/less/same as Universal Coverage?

NOTE: NOT a O’Care fan. Much prefer actual, true, free-market solutions and price transparency. But that is about as realistic as winning the lottery tonight (which isn’t picked tonight). :)

smokeyblonde on January 26, 2016 at 9:47 PM

But if you insist that only a solution that 100% fixes the problem is acceptable then single payer here we come.

Tlaloc on January 26, 2016 at 8:17 PM

A solution that did what was promised wouldn’t be a bad start.

But when people can’t keep their plan, can’t keep their doctor, and are not saving money, from a bill that does not reduce the deficit, the plan is closer to single payer than you let on, since the only true benefit it’s provided is putting some uninsured in Medicaid among the other people it pushed over from private insurance.

But then there’s the studies that say Medicaid isn’t specially better than being uninsured in the first place, “success” has to be more and more qualified.

The Schaef on January 26, 2016 at 9:50 PM

While I agree, isn’t this already in Obamacare which he unilaterally postponed?

When everything in O’care is finally implemented is 2017-2020, is that cost more/less/same as Universal Coverage?

NOTE: NOT a O’Care fan. Much prefer actual, true, free-market solutions and price transparency. But that is about as realistic as winning the lottery tonight (which isn’t picked tonight). :)

smokeyblonde on January 26, 2016 at 9:47 PM

Not even close. The things postponed have been the taxes to pay for the program, not the coverage requirements. Every coverage requirement has been implemented on time and we are at close to 30 million uninsured people. Out of 45 million to start, and by all accounts between 8 and 10 million of those went onto medicaid. Meaning, we have covered all of 6 million or so on Obamacare. To get those last 30 million is going to cost quite a bit. In money, then to force them into the system, more freedom lost, and finally it will cost more jobs.

Constitutionalist on January 26, 2016 at 9:51 PM

We’re left with people who lost their coverage and had to replace it with overpriced Democratt-mandated high deductible scam insurance, and a growing group of people with no insurance who are being further exploited by th e government with their the punitive “tax” penalty.

What a mess. anyone still defending this man-caused disaster is plain evil.

forest on January 26, 2016 at 10:01 PM

Constitutionalist on January 26, 2016 at 9:51 PM

But what about the employer mandate?

Besides it’s the Law Of The Land!?! Everyone must have O’Care! There should be theoretically NO uninsured, right?

smokeyblonde on January 26, 2016 at 10:23 PM

Let me save everyone 60-70 pages of reading the formal CBO report:

It’s a sugar-coated piece of s**t, and people don’t like the flavor.

There. Saved everyone from wasting two hours of life. Glad I could help.

orangemtl on January 26, 2016 at 10:32 PM

Given that it has significantly decreased the uninsured rate and has not actually caused ‘enormous damage’ of any kind your conclusion is flawed. But if you insist that only a solution that 100% fixes the problem is acceptable then single payer here we come.

Prior to Obamacare we had health insurance and health care. Now we have significanty more expensive health insurance and NO health care because we can’t afford to use our insurance. That qualifies as “enormous damage” in my world.

hopeful on January 26, 2016 at 10:47 PM

Don’t worry. Under President Trump:
The Government “will take care of everybody”.
And cost? “The Government will pay for it”.

Problem solved.

Oh, if you don’t like Trump, then you’re in luck.
Bernie Sanders has the same solution; so you can go with the other authoritarian liberal in the race Po-tay-to Po-tah-to.

And the actual cost? Don’t worry.
We’ll save money on the back end; because the government will be an efficient and cost effective method while cutting waste.
Both of them said that; so it must be true… right?

gekkobear on January 26, 2016 at 11:16 PM

Prior to Obamacare we had health insurance and health care. Now we have significanty more expensive health insurance and NO health care because we can’t afford to use our insurance. That qualifies as “enormous damage” in my world.

hopeful on January 26, 2016 at 10:47 PM

This!

Everyone is theoretically “covered”, but who the hell can afford their coverage?

smokeyblonde on January 26, 2016 at 11:45 PM

hopeful on January 26, 2016 at 10:47 PM

Sweetie … experience has shown negotiating a cash price is “usually” substanstially lower than using insurance – but that’s just me with 20+ years experience with it.

smokeyblonde on January 27, 2016 at 12:39 AM

CBO: 2016 ObamaCare enrollment to fall short of projections by … 8 million

So…isn’t that about the time that Obama and his crew make it on American Greed because the Ponzi scheme finally implodes?

Dr. ZhivBlago on January 27, 2016 at 12:51 AM

but but but .. It’s The Law Of The Land!!!!

/oh who am I kidding?

smokeyblonde on January 27, 2016 at 12:54 AM

Tlaloc is confused, as are virtually all leftists, about the difference between “health coverage” and “health care”.

Health coverage” is completely worthless if you can’t find a doctor who will agree to take the payments offered by the insuror, or if you can’t afford the $14,000 to $16,000 deductible you must pay before you get any insurance benefits at all.

Obamacare does nothing but create enormous barriers to actual ‘health care,” and vast hordes of citizens who theoretically have “health coverage” but who have little or no access to actual “health care”!

Armies of bureaucrats and medical office billing staffers do absolutely nothing to cure you of any disease or medical condition. These armies of useless drones sop up the funds which should be spent on development and delivery of actual health care…and waste them pounding keyboards and generating useless paperwork…which cures nobody of anything!

Obamacare “insurance” is a complete waste of money for individuals, and a gross misallocation of resources for the nation.

landlines on January 27, 2016 at 12:54 AM

And on that pleasant note – I’m out!

May God bless us all.

smokeyblonde on January 27, 2016 at 2:58 AM

Having forced six-to-ten million of those Americans to buy needlessly expensive and inefficient coverage isn’t success — it demonstrates that the solution applied to that problem has failed, all while causing enormous damage to the market it “reformed.”

At the very end of his post, Ed stumbles onto the how Democrats have succeeded.

Lolo on January 27, 2016 at 7:08 AM

Obamacare is achieving exactly what Congress and the president intended. If there are 11 million people now enrolled and receiving subsidies totaling $56 billion, the subsidies are, on average, $5,100 per person. It’s not difficult to get people to sign up for any government program if the government foots all or a large part of the bill. The millions who are not eligible for a subsidy and opt out of the system is what should concern us.

spamis on January 27, 2016 at 7:20 AM

Out of 45 million to start, and by all accounts between 8 and 10 million of those went onto medicaid.

Constitutionalist on January 26, 2016 at 9:51 PM

And about the same number are here illegally. So there’s that.

The Schaef on January 27, 2016 at 10:36 AM

obamacare will be dead by 2020, crushed by its own failed logic, and runaway debt. will be interesting to see how the GOP tries to salvage it. party of small govt my arse!

burserker on January 27, 2016 at 3:56 PM