CBO: Estimates of Obamacare sign-ups 40% lower than expected

Despite the threat of a hefty fine for not carrying health insurance, the American people are not signing up for Obamacare insurance plans at anywhere near the rate predicted by the administration.

The CBO reports that Obamacare will enroll far fewer people than expected in 2016.  Instead of 20 million Americans signed up, only 13 million are expected to carry Obamacare insurance.

The Hill:

The new report also underscores the challenges facing the incoming administration in reducing the uninsured rate after 2017. While the healthcare law has led to a historic low in the uninsured population, officials have struggled to further reduce that figure this year. 

Federal health officials had already warned that they were expecting fewer sign-ups this year, a disclosure that caused tremors among insurance companies that remain anxious about the marketplace overall.

Many of the uninsured people who opt out of coverage on the exchanges are now expected to purchase insurance “directly from an insurer instead,” the CBO said.

The smaller enrollment tally will not likely mean a substantial decrease in costs, however.

Though it predicts fewer customers, the budget office says the number of people receiving subsidies will be higher than expected. About 11 million people are expected to receive subsidies this year, compared to 8 million people in 2015.

And while healthcare spending has grown more slowly in the last several years, the CBO is projecting that per-person spending on healthcare programs “will grow more rapidly than it has in recent years.”

The cost of subsidies alone is expected to increase by $18 billion in 2016, reaching a total of $56 billion, and doubling that within a decade.

In March of 2015, the CBO estimated about 11 million people would get coverage through the exchanges by the end of the year.

The enrollment total turned out to be 9.5 million, according to Monday’s report. About 8 million of those customers received subsidies.

Part of the problem for the administration is that there are fewer individual plans being offered because there are fewer companies participating, giving consumers fewer options.  And those options are more expensive than ever, with most companies raising premiums by double digits.

Americans signing up for Obamacare insurance plans are also older and sicker than those not signing up, which further skews the insurance pool.  And with Congress cutting the slush fund that the president set up to reimburse insurance companies for their losses, there are going to be more companies that drop out of the marketplace simply because they can't make enough profit to justify the cost.

The next president and Congress are going to have to make a decision whether to continue to pour money down the Obamacare black hole or scrap it altogether and try something else.

Despite the threat of a hefty fine for not carrying health insurance, the American people are not signing up for Obamacare insurance plans at anywhere near the rate predicted by the administration.

The CBO reports that Obamacare will enroll far fewer people than expected in 2016.  Instead of 20 million Americans signed up, only 13 million are expected to carry Obamacare insurance.

The Hill:

The new report also underscores the challenges facing the incoming administration in reducing the uninsured rate after 2017. While the healthcare law has led to a historic low in the uninsured population, officials have struggled to further reduce that figure this year. 

Federal health officials had already warned that they were expecting fewer sign-ups this year, a disclosure that caused tremors among insurance companies that remain anxious about the marketplace overall.

Many of the uninsured people who opt out of coverage on the exchanges are now expected to purchase insurance “directly from an insurer instead,” the CBO said.

The smaller enrollment tally will not likely mean a substantial decrease in costs, however.

Though it predicts fewer customers, the budget office says the number of people receiving subsidies will be higher than expected. About 11 million people are expected to receive subsidies this year, compared to 8 million people in 2015.

And while healthcare spending has grown more slowly in the last several years, the CBO is projecting that per-person spending on healthcare programs “will grow more rapidly than it has in recent years.”

The cost of subsidies alone is expected to increase by $18 billion in 2016, reaching a total of $56 billion, and doubling that within a decade.

In March of 2015, the CBO estimated about 11 million people would get coverage through the exchanges by the end of the year.

The enrollment total turned out to be 9.5 million, according to Monday’s report. About 8 million of those customers received subsidies.

Part of the problem for the administration is that there are fewer individual plans being offered because there are fewer companies participating, giving consumers fewer options.  And those options are more expensive than ever, with most companies raising premiums by double digits.

Americans signing up for Obamacare insurance plans are also older and sicker than those not signing up, which further skews the insurance pool.  And with Congress cutting the slush fund that the president set up to reimburse insurance companies for their losses, there are going to be more companies that drop out of the marketplace simply because they can't make enough profit to justify the cost.

The next president and Congress are going to have to make a decision whether to continue to pour money down the Obamacare black hole or scrap it altogether and try something else.