CBO: 10 million will lose employer-based coverage under ObamaCare by 2021

The new CBO projection on ObamaCare’s impact has a couple of counter-narrative epiphanies, and the impact on employer-based insurance is just one of them. When Democrats pushed the ACA through Congress on a party-line vote and with plenty of legislative chicanery — remember “reconciliation”? — they insisted that ObamaCare would do three things:

  1. It would not force any changes to individual-market plans already in place, nor to choices of providers.
  2. It would not reduce employer-based health insurance at all, and would slightly improve it.
  3. It would be deficit neutral for the first decade, starting in 2011.

The first became known as Politifact’s 2013 Lie of the Year. Not only did ObamaCare force millions of people out of their plans in the first year of enrollment, it’s doing the same thing in the second year with its recalculation of subsidies and the premium shocks that creates. Investors Business Daily points out that the CBO demolishes the second argument too:

The latest CBO report is supposed to be a big win for the Obama administration because the projected costs are 20% below what the CBO first projected in 2010.

But the CBO report also shows that ObamaCare will be far more disruptive to the employer-based insurance market, while being far less effective at cutting the ranks of the uninsured, than promised.

Thanks to ObamaCare, the CBO now expects that 10 million workers will lose their employer-based coverage by 2021.

This finding stands in sharp contrast to earlier CBO projections, which at one point suggested ObamaCare would increase the number of people getting coverage through work, at least in its early years.

The budget office has, in fact, increased the number it says will lose workplace coverage every year since 2011.

The latest CBO finding also thoroughly debunks the many promises ObamaCare backers made when selling the law — about how those with work-based coverage had nothing to worry about.

IBD offers this comparison between CBO projections on job-based coverage, as well as overall increases in coverage in the general population, between March 2011 and this week’s analysis:


As one can see, the CBO has a much more pessimistic projection for employer-based coverage than it did four years ago. For FY2015, it projects that two million people will get pushed out of their employer-based coverage, but next year that jumps to 7 million — which is the same number that the Obama administration now brags about seeing in exchange enrollments. By FY2018 it jumps to 9 million and then hits the 10 million mark in 2021.

The number of uninsured doesn’t change much over time, either. In FY2015, CBO projects that 36 million non-elderly are uninsured, which will drop all the way down to … er, 29 million in FY2019. It goes back up to 31 million in FY2025 for a difference of five million — about half of the people who will lose their employer-based health coverage over the same period.

Plus, the promises of deficit neutrality turn out to be just as valid as if you like your plan/doctor, etc etc etc. ObamaCare will run a $76 billion deficit in this budget year, and that will jump to $109 billion next year — and increase every year through FY2025. Over the next decade, the ACA will produce a deficit of $1.35 trillion dollars. And that is based on a curious $100 billion boost in “other effects on revenues and outlays” the CBO makes over its April 2014 analysis (and which applies only through 2024) that goes largely unexplained in this memo.

Nearly every promise made by Barack Obama and Democrats on ObamaCare has been debunked, and in relatively short order. Don’t expect this to be the last time that CBO recalculates these trajectories, either.

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David Strom 2:31 PM on March 19, 2023