ObamaCare Will Cause Millions to Lose Insurance and Double Cost
Monday, 19 March 2012 09:07

“If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep your healthcare plan,” President Barack Obama said repeatedly during the debate over his healthcare reform bill, hoping to allay fears that the bill, if passed, would force individuals into different health insurance plans or force those plans to change.

Tell that to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). That nonpartisan agency has just released a report estimating that anywhere from 3 million to a whopping 20 million Americans are likely to lose their employer-based health coverage annually beginning in 2019.

The CBO considered a variety of scenarios with regard to employer-based health insurance. The best-case scenario had just 3 million people losing their coverage each year from 2019 to 2022, while the worst-case scenario had 20 million losing it. (One scenario, however, projected that 3 million more people each year would receive employer-based insurance.) The CBO’s best estimate was that “about 3 million to 5 million fewer people, on net, will obtain coverage through their employer each year … than would have been the case under prior law.”

The CBO expects employers to drop insurance coverage primarily for low-wage earners. The penalty for failing to insure employees, after all, is often far lower than the cost of insuring them; and low-wage earners have little bargaining power. In addition, employers will expect those workers to be able to obtain healthcare via Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), or subsidized insurance on state exchanges — which is true for some but not all of them. In 2019 the CBO projects 11 million people will lose coverage through their employers and another 3 million will drop it voluntarily to obtain subsidized insurance or Medicaid; but it expects 9 million to gain employer-based coverage, meaning that 5 million fewer people will have employer-based health insurance.