CBO Reduces Projection for 2016 ACA Exchange Enrollment by 8M

Significantly fewer U.S. residents than previously expected will be enrolled in health coverage purchased through the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges in 2016, according to a Congressional Budget Office report released Monday, Roll Call reports (Roll Call, 1/25).

Last year, CBO estimated that about 21 million people would be enrolled in ACA plans in 2016 (California Healthline, 1/27/15).

Meanwhile, the Obama administration has estimated that about 10 million U.S. residents will be enrolled in health coverage purchased through the ACA’s exchanges by the end of 2016 (California Healthline, 12/23/15).

The ACA’s current open enrollment period launched Nov. 1, 2015, and is scheduled to end Jan. 31 (Hensch, The Hill, 1/23).

CBO’s updated figures are based on ACA enrollment data through December 2015 (Taylor/Alonso-Zaldivar, AP/Sacramento Bee, 1/25).

CBO in the report reduced its previous enrollment projection by about 40%, estimating that roughly 13 million people are likely to be enrolled in ACA coverage this year (Ferris, The Hill, 1/25). That’s down by about eight million from last year’s estimate.

CBO in the report also lowered its estimate for how many people are expected to receive subsidies to help them purchase exchange plans under the ACA.

CBO previously projected that about 15 million U.S. residents would receive subsidies this year, but it has revised that projection to about 11 million individuals (AP/Sacramento Bee, 1/25). In comparison, about eight million individuals received subsidies in 2015 (The Hill, 1/25).

According to CBO, U.S. spending on subsidies and related costs is expected to increase by $18 billion in 2016, reaching a total of $56 billion (Roll Call, 1/25). That figure is expected to double within 10 years (The Hill, 1/25).

CBO noted in the report that U.S. residents who do not receive subsidies are not likely to purchase coverage through the exchanges. CBO wrote, “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” (Roll Call, 1/25).

CBO did not update its estimates of how many U.S. residents would enroll in health coverage in future years (Levey, Los Angeles Times, 1/25).

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