NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Health Reform Cost Balloons

March 15, 2012

President Obama's national health care law will cost $1.76 trillion over a decade, according to a new projection released today by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), rather than the $940 billion forecast when it was signed into law, says the Washington Examiner.

  • The CBO released new projections from 2013 extending through 2022, and the results are as critics expected: the 10-year cost of the law's core provisions to expand health insurance coverage has now ballooned to $1.76 trillion.
  • That's because we now have estimates for the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) first nine years of full implementation, rather than the mere six when it was signed into law.
  • Only next year will we get a true 10-year cost estimate, if the law isn't overturned by the Supreme Court or repealed by then.
  • Given that in 2022, the last year available, the gross cost of the coverage expansions are $265 billion, we're likely looking at about $2 trillion over the first decade, or more than double what Obama advertised.

The big picture takeaway is that due mostly to weaker economic projections, the CBO now projects that more people will be obtaining insurance through Medicaid than it estimated a year ago at a greater cost to the government, but fewer people will be getting insurance through their employers or the health care law's new subsidized insurance exchanges.  Overall spending will be higher than estimated a year ago, but increased revenue from penalties and taxes will more than offset this.  CBO also now expects 2 million fewer people to be covered as a result of the health care law than previously projected.

Source: Philip Klein, "CBO: ObamaCare to Cost $1.76 Trillion over 10 Years," and "CBO Boosts Its ObamaCare Medicaid Cost Estimate," Washington Examiner, March 13, 2012.  "Updated Estimates for the Insurance Coverage Provisions of the Affordable Care Act," Congressional Budget Office, March 13, 2012.

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