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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press CBO Estimates of Affordable Care Act Enrollment

CBO Estimates of Affordable Care Act Enrollment

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Friday, 04 April 2014 05:24

Glenn Kessler provides a useful clarification of CBO projections for enrollment in the exchanges under the Affordable Care Act, pointing out that the numbers refer to enrollment years. This means that a person who signs up for coverage beginning on April 1 will only count as three quarters of an enrolled person since they will only be covered for three quarters of a year. 

However it is important to note that many more people will be signing up through 2014. While open season, in which anyone would enroll, ended on April 1, people who experience "life events" will be able to enroll at any time. "Life event" refers to anything that qualitatively changes your insurance or financial status. The most frequent life event is leaving a job, which happens to roughly 4 million people a month. Divorces, child birth, and deaths in the family are also life events.

This means that tens of millions of people will become eligible to enroll over the course of the year. Most will not be signing up with the exchanges (they will have other insurance options, such as a new job with insurance), but a substantial fraction will enroll through the exchanges. This will raise total enrollment above the level calculated based on the March enrollment numbers. 

Comments (3)Add Comment
The Math, Boss?
written by Larry Signor, April 04, 2014 9:15
How does the math work?
7m enrolled *(1-x)= enrollment years? where 1 = calender year and x = number of uninsured months. Or is the relationship inverted?
X' million enrolled * (1-x)= 7m enrollment years?.

considering a deadline of 3/31/2014, the first equation indicates total enrollment ~5.25 million. The second equation indicates total enrollment ~9.3 million. What am I missing here, Dean?
People thrown off their plans find Obamacare...
written by David Helveticka, April 05, 2014 12:44
The surge in people applying for Obamacare plans is largely accounted for by folks thrown off their Medicare Advantage and economical private plans by Obamacare. The folks who don't think they need insurance are still not signing up...so the whole program upended millions and still has not solved the "Problem of the unisured"...they can pay the token "Penalty", and keep going to the emergency room, while everyone else has to pay more for less and less coverage.

It would have been cheaper to just open up Medicare or put in another "public option"---but NO--Obamacare is about helping the insurance companies more then it is about helping us working folks!
Viewer II
written by Viewer II, April 05, 2014 8:41
Dean, you hit on a very important point regarding the ACA, people who suddenly leave the workforce through no fault of their own can now still get healthcare. This is something we've needed for a long long time in the US.
I also deeply appreciate your continuing theme regarding subsidies for Big Pharma. I can't speak for the politicians, but I can say that more and more regular people with common sense absolutely agree with you.
While I wish there could have been medicare for all, moving to where we are was an almost impossible step, so we need to build on it and not tear it down. We need more doctors, and more primary care workers. We also need to fund the NIH, and speak about the environmental and dietary problems that contribute in a large way to increased healthcare costs. It's true, equality = excellence in healthcare. ACA was just a small step in the right direction, and its flaws can be fixed.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.

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