Obamacare Cost Projection Drops $109 Billion

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
April 14 2014 2:46 PM

Congressional Budget Office Drops Obamacare Cost Projections by $109 Billion

476647055-congressional-budget-office-director-doug-elmendorf
Pictured: CBO director Doug Elmendorf just analyzing the heck out of some budgets.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Congressional Budget Office's latest projection says the Affordable Care Act is on track to cost $109 billion less than previously anticipated. (Other headlines on this story say $104 billion, but that's the number for the period from 2015 to 2024; the CBO report also revises projections for this year downward by $5 billion. If we've somehow misinterpreted this, please correct us via outraged tweets at @slatest.) From Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic:

Why this latest change? It doesn't appear to be because the law will reach fewer people. CBO now expects slightly more people to end up with health insurance, at least over the long run. The CBO's primary explanation for lower costs is that health insurance premiums on the new exchanges—what the administration calls “marketplaces”—are lower than CBO had originally expected they would be.
Advertisement

There is one potential hangup for ACA boosters in the report, Cohn writes.

The plans on the marketplaces are cheaper because they limit beneficiaries to fewer doctors and hospitals, while controlling their access to treatments and medications. Insurers have used the techniques for a long time, going back at least to the 1980s. That’s “managed care.” But insurers appear to be using them much more aggressively in the new marketplace plans, on the theory that most people will pick policies based on price rather than access. The change has not gone over well with many people, particularly those whose old policies lacked such restrictions. And in at least a few cases, these restrictions are bound to create real hardship for people with serious medical problems who need access to particular medications or specialists.

Ben Mathis-Lilley edits the Slatest. Follow @Slatest on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

An Iranian Woman Was Sentenced to Death for Killing Her Alleged Rapist. Can Activists Save Her?

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

We Need to Talk: A Terrible Name for a Good Women’s Sports Show

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

The U.S. Has a New Problem in Syria: The Moderate Rebels Feel Like We’ve Betrayed Them

Homeland Is Good Again! For Now, at Least.

Behold
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 AM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 1 2014 12:20 PM Don’t Expect Hong Kong’s Protests to Spread to the Mainland
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
  Life
The Eye
Oct. 1 2014 1:04 PM An Architectural Crusade Against the Tyranny of Straight Lines
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 2:08 PM We Need to Talk: Terrible Name, Good Show
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Oct. 1 2014 1:53 PM Slate Superfest East How to get your tickets before anyone else.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 2:24 PM The New Interstellar Trailer Is the Most Exciting Yet
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 2:26 PM The Apple Graveyard Leave a flower for a dead Apple product.
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 2:36 PM Climate Science Is Settled Enough The Wall Street Journal’s fresh face of climate inaction.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.