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CBO lowers estimate for Affordable Care Act enrollment

Agency predicts average of 13 million people will have policies purchased through exchanges in 2016

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has lowered its estimate of how many people will get coverage through Affordable Care Act in 2016, saying that enrollment in ACA plans has grown slower than anticipated.

The CBO report--which says the originally anticipated number of Americans who were going to be insured in any given month in 2016 was around 21 million--estimates that about 13 million Americans are now expected to be insured in any given month. 

The Obama administration had a goal of enrolling 10 million people in marketplace plans by the end of 2015, a relatively modest estimate that reflects the difficulty of reaching the remaining uninsured.

The CBO added that the average monthly enrollment of newly eligible Medicaid beneficiaries was 55 percent higher in 2015 than in 2014. Additionally, the report says that subsidies for health insurance purchased through the exchanges established under the ACA increased by $23 billion in 2015, and the growth resulted from a significant increase in the number of people purchasing coverage through the exchanges as well as the fact that the subsidies were available for the entire fiscal year.

The report also says that spending on federal healthcare programs outpaced spending on Social Security for the first time, and the $936 billion price tag on health programs related to the ACA--Medicare, Medicaid and subsidies--is a 13 percent increase from the amount spent in 2014. This new estimate is likely to renew the political debate over the healthcare reform law's impact on the federal budget, The Hill reported.

The CBO previously predicted that healthcare spending would rise, specifically because of the increase in life expectancy and baby boomers reaching the age of 65.

To learn more
- here's the report
- here's The Hill article

Related Articles:
CBO report: Feds can't sustain Medicare spending
HHS aims for 10M marketplace enrollees by end of 2015
11.3M sign up for coverage on state, federal exchanges