Elizabeth Rich helps a man sign up for the Affordable Care Act at Swope Health Services in Kansas City, Mo., March 31, 2014.
Charlie Riedel/AP Photo

CBO: Affordable Care Act getting even more affordable

Updated
Critics of the Affordable Care Act no longer want to talk about enrollment totals, which is understandable to the extent that the latest ACA enrollment figures look quite good. Instead, many Republicans have gone back to some old favorites: “Obamacare” is causing premiums to spike; the nation can’t afford the system; it will bankrupt us all; we’re all doomed, etc.
 
I can only imagine how frustrating it must be lately to be an opponent of this law.
The most expensive provisions of Obamacare will cost taxpayers about $100 billion less than expected, the Congressional Budget Office said Monday.
 
CBO also said it doesn’t expect big premium increases next year for insurance plans sold through the health care law’s exchanges.
 
In its latest analysis, CBO said the law’s coverage provisions – a narrow part of the law that includes only certain policies – will cost the government $36 billion this year, which is $5 billion less than CBO’s previous estimate. Over the next decade, the provisions will cost about $1.4 trillion – roughly $104 billion less than CBO last estimated.
The CBO report is available in its entirety here (pdf). The CBO also released a helpful summary with some lovely charts.
 
The report found that coverage is likely to cost less thanks to premiums being lower than expected through the exchange marketplaces. In other words, take pretty much everything you’ve heard from congressional Republicans lately and believe the opposite.
 
And as part of the same review, of course, the CBO added that the Affordable Care Act will also continue to reduce the federal budget deficit, which is also the opposite of critics’ claims.
 
Wait, for the right, it gets worse.
 
Igor Volsky flagged some news that was easy to overlook.
In a blow to conservative critics, the office also concluded that the law’s so-called shock absorbers – reinsurance payments that are distributed to insurers that attract high-cost enrollees – “reduced exchange premiums this year by approximately 10 percent” and will “reduce premiums by smaller amounts in 2015 and 2016.” Republicans like Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) have described the provision as an “insurance bailout” and have introduced legislation to repeal it.
 
CBO also found additional savings in Medicaid, revising downward government spending per adult enrolled in the program.
 
Ultimately, 12 million more nonelderly people will have health insurance in 2014 as a result of the law. Twenty-six million more “will be insured each year from 2017 through 2024 than would have been the case without the ACA,” the CBO concluded.
So, taken together, what have we learned of late?
* ACA enrollment through exchanges reached 7.1 million, ahead of early estimates.
 
* The ACA is quickly reducing the uninsured rate.
 
* Thanks in part to the ACA, health care spending has slowed dramatically and health care inflation is at its lowest point in 50 years.
 
* According to the Department of Commerce, the ACA is also having a positive effect on personal incomes.
 
* And according to the CBO, the system is even more affordable than perviously projected.
 
There are potential pitfalls ahead and some unanswered questions that will take time to resolve. But given the independent information that’s come to light in recent weeks, this is a system that’s working. The right can either acknowledge reality or embrace delusions and conspiracies, but the facts are quite evident for those who care to look.
 

Affordable Care Act, CBO and Obamacare

CBO: Affordable Care Act getting even more affordable

Updated