CBO to Change How it Calculates Insurance Coverage Projections

The Congressional Budget Office has announced that it will be using a new model for budget projections that will account for new consumer and employer preferences when it estimates how proposed legislation will affect insurance coverage and premiums.

According to Modern Healthcare, the new baseline will be in use later this spring when CBO issues budget projections.

Republicans have been complaining that CBO’s estimates on how legislation—in particular efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act—will affect insurance choices didn’t take consumer choices into account, pointing to its projections around efforts to repeal the individual mandate. CBO’s projections put the number of people going without insurance over the next 10 years at 13 million, but Republicans said that the mandate hadn’t had such a big effect on people to push them into coverage—and that CBO was as a result overestimating the impact of the repeal.

“The new model better captures underlying relationships among individuals, families, employment, income and insurance coverage because it incorporates new data and includes refinements in modeling insurance choices,” CBO Director Keith Hall wrote in a blog post.

The insurance model is already updated at least annually to take into account survey data, changes in regulations or judicial decisions, among other factors that affect it. The new model will indicate changes in how individuals and families are likely to make coverage selections, as well as how employers are likely to take workers’ preferences into account when deciding whether to offer coverage.

Early estimates of the effect of the so-called American Health Care Act, a Republican effort in 2017 to repeal the ACA, put the number of Americans who would lose coverage over 10 years at 22 million. Republicans said this was inaccurate. In their 2017 tax reform package, Republicans also included a repeal of the individual mandate.


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