Feb. 4—New budget projections from Congress’ primary scorekeeper estimated that 2 million fewer people will get coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) than it predicted last year because of “significant technical problems.”

The revised enrollment figures that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released Tuesday predict that six million people will enrollees in private insurance coverage through ACA marketplaces in 2014— one million fewer than previous estimates. And the CBO now predicts there will be eight million new Medicaid enrollees—one million fewer than originally projected.

The reduced enrollments from CBO’s May 2013 projections were blamed on the widespread, and only partially resolved, technical failings of the federal and state-run sign-up websites.

The agency’s prediction for the number of uninsured who will gain coverage in 2014 as a result of the ACA dropped by 1 million to 13 million.

Left unchanged were enrollment projections for future years, due to the lack of “sufficient data” on the details from the ongoing inaugural ACA open enrollment period, according to CBO. But the uncertainty from a variety of factors could affect final enrollment outcomes for 2014.

“In particular, people who choose to enroll primarily to avoid a penalty for being uninsured may wait until the end of the open enrollment period to choose a plan,” the CBO report stated. “Thus, it is possible that the number of enrollees will reach the 7 million originally projected for 2014, just as it is possible that the number will fall short of the current estimate of 6 million.”

The agency estimated that the Obama administration’s November 2013 waiver of ACA insurance requirements, which gave state insurance commissioners authority to allow health insurers to re-enroll people in plans that are illegal under the law, will result in 1.5 million people retaining those policies in 2014. Half a million of those customers will retain those noncompliant, pre-ACA policies in 2015.

Left unchanged from the 2013 projections was CBO’s estimate that the ACA will result in up to 7 million fewer people having employment-based insurance coverage each year from 2016 through 2024. 

Publication Date: Tuesday, February 04, 2014