Original CBO projections show 24 million fewer people have insurance today

President Obama is fond of touting the "success" of Obamacare in getting individuals insured.  But the figures the president uses to justify his boasting are based on amended projections from the Congressional Budget Office.

Every year, the CBO would change the targets for insuring Americans, always reducing the projected number.  But when trying to sell Obamacare to Congress and the people, they were singing a different tune.

Weekly Standard:

Three years ago, on the eve of Obamacare’s implementation, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected that President Obama's centerpiece legislation would result in an average of 201 million people having private health insurance in any given month of 2016. Now that 2016 is here, the CBO says that just 177 million people, on average, will have private health insurance in any given month of this year—a shortfall of 24 million people.

Indeed, based on the CBO's own numbers, it seems possible that Obamacare has actually reduced the number of people with private health insurance. In 2013, the CBO projected that, without Obamacare, 186 million people would be covered by private health insurance in 2016—160 million on employer-based plans, 26 million on individually purchased plans. The CBO now says that, with Obamacare, 177 million people will be covered by private health insurance in 2016—155 million on employer-based plans, 12 million on plans bought through Obamacare's government-run exchanges, and 9 million on other individually purchased plans (plus a rounding error of 1 million).

In other words, it would appear that a net 9 million people have lost their private health plans, thanks to Obamacare—with a net 5 million people having lost employer-based plans and a net 4 million people having lost individually purchased plans.

None of this is to say that fewer people have "coverage" under Obamacare—it's just not private coverage. In 2013, the CBO projected that 34 million people would be on Medicaid or CHIP (the Children's Health Insurance Program) in 2016. The CBO now says that 68 million people will be on Medicaid or CHIP in 2016—double its earlier estimate. It turns out that Obamacare is pretty much a giant Medicaid expansion.

In fact, every year, the CBO has moved the goalposts, largely because its original projections were far too optimistic.  As far as Medicaid expansion, the CBO failed to take into account that millions of people who had always been eligible for Medicaid would sign up, thus boosting enrollment.

So while Obamacare has drastically underperformed, it doesn't appear that way because of how the CBO projects enrollment.  If we take the original projections, Obamacare could be considered a spectacular failure.

President Obama is fond of touting the "success" of Obamacare in getting individuals insured.  But the figures the president uses to justify his boasting are based on amended projections from the Congressional Budget Office.

Every year, the CBO would change the targets for insuring Americans, always reducing the projected number.  But when trying to sell Obamacare to Congress and the people, they were singing a different tune.

Weekly Standard:

Three years ago, on the eve of Obamacare’s implementation, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected that President Obama's centerpiece legislation would result in an average of 201 million people having private health insurance in any given month of 2016. Now that 2016 is here, the CBO says that just 177 million people, on average, will have private health insurance in any given month of this year—a shortfall of 24 million people.

Indeed, based on the CBO's own numbers, it seems possible that Obamacare has actually reduced the number of people with private health insurance. In 2013, the CBO projected that, without Obamacare, 186 million people would be covered by private health insurance in 2016—160 million on employer-based plans, 26 million on individually purchased plans. The CBO now says that, with Obamacare, 177 million people will be covered by private health insurance in 2016—155 million on employer-based plans, 12 million on plans bought through Obamacare's government-run exchanges, and 9 million on other individually purchased plans (plus a rounding error of 1 million).

In other words, it would appear that a net 9 million people have lost their private health plans, thanks to Obamacare—with a net 5 million people having lost employer-based plans and a net 4 million people having lost individually purchased plans.

None of this is to say that fewer people have "coverage" under Obamacare—it's just not private coverage. In 2013, the CBO projected that 34 million people would be on Medicaid or CHIP (the Children's Health Insurance Program) in 2016. The CBO now says that 68 million people will be on Medicaid or CHIP in 2016—double its earlier estimate. It turns out that Obamacare is pretty much a giant Medicaid expansion.

In fact, every year, the CBO has moved the goalposts, largely because its original projections were far too optimistic.  As far as Medicaid expansion, the CBO failed to take into account that millions of people who had always been eligible for Medicaid would sign up, thus boosting enrollment.

So while Obamacare has drastically underperformed, it doesn't appear that way because of how the CBO projects enrollment.  If we take the original projections, Obamacare could be considered a spectacular failure.