Six Million Uninsured Will Pay Penalty – CBO
Policy + Politics

Six Million Uninsured Will Pay Penalty – CBO

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Though 30 million people will remain uninsured in 2016 after the Affordable Care Act goes into effect, nearly six million of them will pay the financial penalty recently upheld by the Supreme Court, a new report from the Congressional Budget Office says.

While the number is a relatively small share of the total, it is larger by about 15 percent than previous estimates. “Changes in the economic outlook (primarily a higher unemployment rate and lower wages and salaries),” are the primary reason for the slight increase, CBO chief Douglas W. Elmendorf wrote.

The law is projected to provide insurance for about 30 million people, either through plans purchased with subsidies on state-based exchanges or through joining state Medicaid programs. A number of Republican-led states are balking at signing up for the program.

Over half the 30 million who will remain uninsured after the law goes into effect won’t be subject to the penalty because they are unauthorized immigrants, who are prohibited from receiving Medicaid or subsidies; are people with incomes so low they don’t file income tax returns; are members of Indian tribes; or are people whose premiums – were they to buy insurance – would go over 8 percent of their income.

Another 11 to 12 million people will be granted exemptions from the penalty because of hardship or their religious beliefs, Elmendorf said.

The six million people subject to the penalty will pay about $7 billion in 2016 and $8 billion a year through 2022, the report said. That’s about $3 billion a year more than previously expected.

However, 65 percent of the payments will come from individuals whose incomes are greater than 400 percent of the federal poverty level, the cutoff point for subsidy under Obamacare. Just 4 percent will have earnings below the poverty line. The federal poverty line in 2016 is projected to be $12,000 for a single person and $24,600 for a family of four.

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