Washington Update

Congressional Budget Office Reports Individual Mandate Delay Would Increase the Number of Uninsured

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Delaying the individual mandate clause in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) until 2015 would raise the number of uninsured Americans by about 11 million in 2014 and reduce the expected coverage gains under the act by nearly 85%, according to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate.

In a September 6 report, the CBO concluded that the mandate was expected to reduce the number of uninsured to 44 million. Without the individual mandate, it said, the number of uninsured people under 65 would likely only drop to 55 million. The report also said that delaying the individual mandate would raise premiums for health insurance purchased in the individual market in 2014.

“Delaying the individual mandate for one year would undermine health reform just as the major coverage expansions are set to take effect in 2014,” said the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, a non-profit organization that has championed the ACA.

The CBO study was prompted by the House’s passage of a bill in July to delay the individual mandate until 2015. It broke down the figure of 11 million additional uninsured as follows:

  • Five million fewer people would have Medicaid coverage,
  • Four million fewer people would have employment-based coverage, and
  • Two million fewer people would have individual health care policies.
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