POLITICS

Yes, Obamacare's costs have almost doubled

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Conn Carroll

Last week, the Congressional Budget Office released a new report showing that the gross cost of President Obama's health care law has risen from $940 billion when the bill was passed, to $1.76 trillion today. This did not sell with Obamacare's leftist apologists.

New York Magazine's Jonathan Chait, The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn, and The Washington Post's Ezra Klein all wrote posts denying that Obamacare's costs have doubled since it became law. Below are the gross cost tables from both: 1) the March 18, 2010 CBO Obamacare cost estimate; and 2) the March 2012 Obamacare cost estimate.

2010 CBO report

2012 CBO report

$1.76 trillion is not double $940 billion, but it's close. Throw in one more year of full implementation ($265 billion in 2022) and the real ten year gross cost of Obamacare is north of $2 trillion.

Ezra makes a big deal about the fact the 2012 CBO report shows that the "net" costs of Obamacare actually went down $50 billion. But that "net cost" reduction comes almost entirely from increases in the mandate fines paid by individuals and employers. So in 2010, the CBO estimated that Americans would only pay $17 billion in individual mandate fines. The 2012 estimate has that number up to $54 billion. In 2010, the CBO estimated that American employers would pay only $52 billion in mandate fines. In 2012, that number is up to $113 billion.

And that is not the end of the bad news for Obamacare supporters. The CBO also reports:

CBO and JCT’s projections of health insurance coverage have also changed since last March. Fewer people are now expected to obtain health insurance coverage from their employer or in insurance exchanges; more are now expected to obtain coverage from Medicaid or CHIP or from nongroup or other sources. More are expected to be uninsured. The extent of the changes varies from year to year, but in 2016, for example, the ACA is now estimated to reduce the number of people receiving health insurance coverage through an employer by an additional 4 million enrollees relative to the March 2011 projections. In that year, CBO and JCT now estimate that there will be 2 million fewer enrollees in insurance exchanges. In the other direction, CBO and JCT now estimate that, in 2016, the ACA will increase enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP slightly more than previously estimated (but considerably more in 2014 and 2015), and it will reduce the number of people with nongroup or other coverage by 3 million less and the number of uninsured people by 2 million less than previously estimated.

To recap, the CBO now predicts that Obamacare: 1) will force millions more Americans out of their current employer coverage than originally advertised; 2) will force millions more Americans onto Medicaid than originally advertised; 3) will force millions more Americans to pay fines for not obtaining health care; 4) will force businesses to pay billions more in mandate fines; and 5) will leave millions more Americans without insurance than originally advertised.


UPDATE: Some are complaining tha the 2010 CBO report uses a 10-year window while the 2012 CBO reports uses a 11-year window. This is now adressed here.

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