Six million Americans will sign up for coverage under President Obama’s signature health care law, rather than the 7 million previously estimated, because of the botched initial rollout of the program’s Web site, the Congressional Budget Office estimated Tuesday.
In its new analysis, the CBO said it had reduced its estimate of how many Americans would sign up for the insurance through the online marketplaces “in light of technical problems that impeded many people’s enrollment in exchanges in the first months of the open enrollment period.”
The CBO said that the program would catch up over time, with a total of 13 million Americans signing up in 2015 and 24 million by 2017.
The Affordable Care Act will also reduce the number of fulltime workers by more than 2 million in coming years, congressional budget analysts said in the most detailed analysis of the law’s impact on jobs.
The CBO said the law’s impact on jobs would be mostly felt starting after 2016. The agency previously estimated that the economy would have 800,000 fewer jobs as a result of the law.
The impact is likely to be most felt, the CBO said, among low-wage workers. The agency said that most of the effect would come from Americans deciding not to seek work as a result of the ACA’s impact on the economy. Some workers may forgo employment, while others may reduce hours, for a equivalent of at least 2 million fulltime workers dropping out of the labor force.
Late last month, the Obama administration announced that about 3 million Americans had signed up for private health plans under the federal health exchange and separate exchanges that are being run by 14 states. Tthe administration and the CBO agree there should be a surge of sign-ups near the March deadline to apply for coverage in 2014.
At the same time, the CBO reported that the federal budget is rapidly shrinking and is projected to decline to $514 billion this year, providing fresh evidence that the problem that has been Washington’s obsession for the past several years has become far less urgent.
Tax hikes, spending cuts and faster economic growth have helped close the deficit, which topped $1 trillion for several years following the onset of the Great Recession.
The budget deficit would equal 3.0 percent of the total size of the nation’s economy this year – what many economists see as a healthy level. The deficit is expected to decrease to $478 billion next year, or 2.6 percent of the size of the economy.
This article originally appeared in The Washington Post. Read more from The Washington Post: