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Health reform law will slash number of uninsured: CBO

Health reform law will slash number of uninsured: CBO

The 2010 health care reform law will make a huge dent in the number of Americans without health insurance, according to the latest estimates from congressional researchers.

Next year, an estimated 44 million people under age 65 will be uninsured, down from an estimated 58 million in 2013, according to a Congressional Budget office report released Tuesday.

And the number of uninsured will continue to fall each year after 2014 until it stabilizes at 29 million in 2017, says the CBO report.

The two key reasons for the drop in the uninsured are Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provisions that, starting in 2014, will give premium subsidies to the lower-income uninsured individuals to purchase coverage in public health insurance exchanges and heavily subsidize states that expand eligibility for their Medicaid programs.

In 2014, Medicaid enrollment will grow by 8 million, while the new exchanges will provide coverage to 7 million Americans, with exchange enrollment peaking at 27 million in 2017, the CBO says.

On the other hand, employer-based coverage will fall. In 2016, the CBO projects that 154 million non-elderly Americans will have employer-based coverage, 6 million fewer than if the health care reform law had not been passed.

That finding is not surprising, experts say. For example, small employers employing low-income workers will have much less of an incentive to offer coverage. Unlike larger companies, employers with less than 50 employees will be exempt from the health care reform law's $2,000-per-full-time-employee penalty for not offering coverage, while their low-income employees will be eligible for federal subsidies to offset premiums for coverage purchased in exchanges.