Enrollments in Obamacare for 2017 fell drastically short of what the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected four years ago, prompting questions if their analysis of the Republican replacement bill can even be trusted.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released its final enrollment report Wednesday revealing that just over 12.2 million people signed up for coverage under Obamacare between November 1, 2016, and January 1, 2017, roughly half the number that the CBO estimated.
The report noted that 12,216,003 Americans either purchased a new plan under the Affordable Care Act or were automatically reenrolled in Obamacare plans. The majority of plans—9 million—were purchased via Healthcare.gov, while 3 million Americans bought coverage through state-based marketplaces.
In 2013, the CBO estimated that 24 million Americans would purchase a plan through the exchanges for 2017, nearly double the enrollment figures released Wednesday.
“CBO has a poor record of predicting coverage,” said Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. “In 2013, CBO predicted that 24 million people would be on the Obamacare exchanges, that law’s health insurance marketplaces, in 2017.”
The CBO recently analyzed the Republican’s Obamacare replacement plan, the American Health Care Act, and forecast that 14 million people would become uninsured due to the legislation.
“They haven’t really said why their forecast of Affordable Care Act [ACA] enrollment was wrong,” Furchtgott-Roth said. “So, that’s why their forecast of the coverage for the Republican bill is so odd.”
“Here they are forecasting coverage, but they got it completely wrong under the ACA because people didn’t want to buy ACA coverage,” she added.
The CBO report also found that fewer Americans selected an Obamacare plan this year than last. In 2016, 12.7 million Americans enrolled, while 12.2 million signed up in 2017.
A record number of enrollments was reported by federal health officials during the time leading up to the end of open enrollment.
“Federal health officials Wednesday touted a record 6.4 million customer sign-ups on the federal Obamacare marketplace HealthCare.gov so far this open enrollment season—topping last year’s pace during the same time period by 400,000 customers,” CNBC reported. “And they sharply warned that insurance coverage gains under Obamacare could be lost if President-elect Donald Trump and congressional Republicans follow through on their threats to repeal the Affordable Care Act.”
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