Saturday, December 19, 2009

CBO Joins CMS in Projecting 17 million to Lose Workplace Health Insurance Post Reform

The Congressional Budget Office projects 17 million Americans will lose employer sponsored health insurance from 2015 to 2019. That will be the second stage of the health insurance dump to the individual. The first is underway.

150 million Americans will have employer coverage in 2010 (CBO projection)

176.3 million had it in 2008 (Census Bureau data)

If CBO is correct, 26.3 million Americans will lose workplace health insurance in two short years. Another 17 million will lose it once all reform provisions are in place. On the 17 million number, CBO and Medicare's Chief Actuary agree. CBO does propose employer coverage will increase by 2 million a year from 2011 to 2014, but that flies in the face an established trend of employers doing less (per Census Department numbers).

Health reform shifts responsibility for health coverage and medical expenses to the individual and a tapped out Uncle Sam. Businesses clearly want to do less. The government promised to do more in 2014. Those commitments may dwindle given talk of fiscal restraint.

A two stage dump is on the way. It's no fun to see, especially from the middle of the first shedding.

Other bill changes include giving WellPoint, UnitedHealth, Aetna, Humana, and Cigna an extra year before taxing for-profit health insurers. Nonprofit insurance plans in Nebraska and Michigan get special treatment. Nebraska also gets an extra year Medicaid supplemental from Uncle Sam. Nebraska, Nebraska? It rings like a Ben Nelson shakedown.

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