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Obamacare cost projection didn't double

April 5, 2012 - Jim Anderson
Many people are repeating the claim that the Congressional Budget Office has doubled the estimated cost of the Affordable Care Act.

An analysis by says that claim is false and concludes that the actual increase is about 9 percent.

The confusion arises, in part, because the newest estimate covers a different time frame than the original. For the eight years that are common to both estimates, the gross costs are projected at 8.6 percent higher, while the net costs will be about a half-percent lower.

The original projection covered the 10 years after enactment (2010-2019) even though the law doesn’t become fully effective until 2014.

According to The original gross cost estimate — at $938 billion over 10 years — was for 2010-2019. CBO’s latest $1.76 trillion estimate is for 11 years, ending in 2022 (or 2012-2022.)

That’s not to say there aren’t legitimate arguments about the costs of health care reform.

But, according to the analysis, it’s wrong to claim that the new CBO report doubles the original estimate. There’s an additional year in the newest estimate and only eight years are common to both estimates.

Also, both estimates are for gross costs and do not include revenue offsets such as penalties paid by employers who choose not to provide coverage to their workers, penalties paid by individuals who opt not to obtain coverage, taxes on high-cost health plans and other effects of the law’s coverage provisions.

“After accounting for these offsets, the ‘net’ cost of the coverage provisions are now expected to be somewhat lower than projected two years ago,” says.

A link is available at right.



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