Affordable Care Act, Obamacare — April 14, 2014 at 3:11 pm

If you want to save the government and taxpayers money, support Obamacare


New projections from the Congressional Budget Office show just how well the Affordable Care Act is working.

In news that’s certain to have Obamacare’s opponents sputtering with outrage, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released updated estimates on Monday on the cost of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to the federal government — and to individuals.

The verdict? It’s going to cost everyone less than originally expected.

Relative to their previous projections made in February 2014, CBO and JCT [the Joint Commission on Taxation] now estimate that the ACA’s coverage provisions will result in lower net costs to the federal government: The agencies currently project a net cost of $36 billion for 2014, $5 billion less than the previous projection for the year; and $1,383 billion for the 2015–2024 period, $104 billion less than the previous projections.

According to the report, cited above, the estimates of the net costs for 2014 stem almost entirely from spending for subsidies to help consumers buy insurance and from an increase in spending for Medicaid.

Here’s where the report gets even better.

Those estimates address only the insurance coverage provisions of the ACA; they do not constitute all of the act’s budgetary effects. Many other provisions, on net, are projected to reduce budget deficits. Considering all of the provisions — including the coverage provisions — CBO and JCT estimated in July 2012 (their most recent comprehensive estimates) that the ACA’s overall effect would be to reduce federal deficits.

You read that right: reduce federal deficits. Tell me again why Republicans are so opposed to the ACA when they keep hammering away at the need to lower the deficit?

Yes, there are costs associated with the ACA. But they’re proving to be less than expected. According to the Wall Street Journal, the average size of a federal subsidy for each enrollee receiving one in 2015 will be $4,250, rather than $5,330. In 2024, that figure will be $7,170 instead of $8,370.

Even better, it’s looking more and more likely that the benefits of government expenditures are going to outweigh the costs. Healthcare spending has already “slowed dramatically,” due in part to the ACA, says MSNBC’s Steve Benen. He points out other benefits in his piece on the new CBO estimate, including a positive impact on personal incomes.

There’s still other good news in the CBO report, which you can read in full HERE (pdf).

But our friends at Daily Kos sum it up nicely.

  • Health insurance premiums are lower than CBO originally projected, saving the government $190 billion
  • 12 million more nonelderly people will have health insurance in 2014 than would have had it in the absence of the ACA
  • The number of uninsured will fall to 30 million by 2017 and will remain there through 2024, absent other reforms
  • Republicans who continue railing against Obamacare increasingly look like crackpots shaking their fists at the wind. With the evidence continuing to stack up against their arguments, it won’t be long before they have nothing left to complain about.

    Even more important, it’s an opportunity for Democrats to trumpet the success of the ACA as beneficial both to the government and the people it serves.

    [Photo credit: Amy Lynn Smith]