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Health reform law to slightly lower number of employer plan enrollees: CBO

Health reform law to slightly lower number of employer plan enrollees: CBO

WASHINGTON—The health care reform law will have only a modest impact on the number of people covered in employer plans, but it will significantly reduce the number of uninsured, according to a congressional analysis.

In 2016—two years after the effective date of key reform law provisions that provide subsidized coverage to the lower-income uninsured and impose financial penalties on employers that do not offer “affordable” coverage or do not offer any coverage at all—the Congressional Budget Office estimates that 155 million people will have coverage through employer plans.

That's a coverage drop of 4 million, or 2.6%, compared with the 159 million people who would have had employer-sponsored coverage had the health reform legislation not been passed.

On the other hand, the number of uninsured will fall to 26 million in 2016. In 2012, the CBO, whose report was released Tuesday, estimates that 53 million Americans will be uninsured.

A key factor in the drop in the number of uninsured will be the creation of state health insurance exchanges, which in 2016 are expected to attract 20 million enrollees.

The exchanges will be available, among others, to lower-income uninsured individuals—those with incomes of up to 400% of the federal poverty level—who will be able to use federal premium subsidies to buy coverage from insurers offering policies through the exchanges.

An expansion of the federal-state Medicaid program also will reduce the number of uninsured, according to the report.

For in-depth coverage of this topic and related issues, visit our Solution Arcs on Alternative Financing Strategies for Health Care Benefits and What Benefits Managers Need to Know About Health Care Reform.