Nothing to celebrate

Good news everybody — the CBO projects Obamacare Exchange subsidy costs to be lower than previously projected.

National Journal:

Obamacare’s most expensive provisions will cost about $9 billion less than expected, according to the latest estimates from the Congressional Budget Office.

Bad news everybody —

 Most of the cost savings being projected are due to fewer people enrolling and receiving subsidies in the first three years.

National Journal from 2/4

About 6 million people will probably enroll in private insurance coverage through Obamacare this year, the Congressional Budget Office said today.

CBO had initially projected that 7 million people would sign up for coverage in the first year, but it rolled back those expectations “in light of technical problems” that plagued and certain state exchanges when they launched.

Decent news everybody —

The CBO’s February enrollment projections basically assumed that the October and November clusterfuck can be written off as a one time event.  People who would enroll in the out-years in the pre-October projections would still be enrolling in the out years, and the people who got scared away from enrolling this year will enroll next year. 

But the website clusterfuck will have significant and real costs as over a million people who otherwise probably would have insuranace in 2014 won’t.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit

21 replies
  1. 1
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    I know that the website clusterfuck screwed over a lot of people in Oregon. I mean, really…a web site that only allows Internet Exploder to access its features? That was FAIL from the getgo.

  2. 2
    🎂 Martin says:

    But the website clusterfuck will have significant and real costs as over a million people who otherwise probably would have insuranace in 2014 won’t.

    That’s not really the fault of the website implementation, given that as soon as it was fixed anyone could sign up with plenty of time to meet deadlines.

    The fault lies with the conservative media and the GOP who rallied that event into a crusade to convince people not to sign up.

  3. 3
    Yatsuno says:

    Didn’t the Massachusetts model have a bunch of sign-ups at the deadline? I think declaring doom is a bit premature.

  4. 4
    Ian says:

    And now we can return to the point where everything the CBO says republicans will call a lie.

  5. 5
    jamick says:

    @🎂 Martin: come on

  6. 6
    rda909 says:

    Important to remember that, comparatively speaking to big “free market” Web site launches, was an extremely successful launch since it was running quite well after the buffer period ended. And of course it’s important to note that the problems had for a short time were created almost entirely by Republican governors purposely trying to tank the entire program, which is something “free market” sites never have to deal with. Anyone not covered now who wants to be can thank Republicans and their enablers in the media for any problems.

    So in a couple years we go from a system of out of control price increases year after year, with dramatically lower benefits paid out each year, to now the elimination of pre-existing conditions, kids 26 and lower allowed to stay on plans, 6 million (and counting) new people covered, and in many states dramatic decreases in costs and huge increases in benefits which are helping millions of families, and mostly lower-income folks, and many other positive changes. Thank you President Obama for this incredibly successful program called Obamacare! It’s working better than I ever imagined, and it’s so exciting to think it’s only going to get better from here on our way to something closer to a single-payer system, of course provided Democrats win the House and keep the Senate later this year.

  7. 7
    Richard Mayhew says:

    @Yatsuno: Yeah, I’m personally expecting 2 million people to sign-up from March 1st to March 31st so there will be an avalanche, but 2 months were effectively wasted.

  8. 8
    dmsilev says:


    So in a couple years we go from a system of out of control price increases year after year, with dramatically lower benefits paid out each year, to now the elimination of pre-existing conditions, kids 26 and lower allowed to stay on plans, 6 million (and counting) new people covered, and in many states dramatic decreases in costs and huge increases in benefits which are helping millions of families, and mostly lower-income folks, and many other positive changes

    Yes, but other than that, what have the Romans Democrats done for us?

  9. 9
    Elie says:


    YEAH!!!! This

  10. 10
    Gypsy Howell says:

    How many people aren’t covered because Republican governors wouldn’t expand Medicaid coverage? (I haven’t seen that number, although maybe you’ve discussed it in the past.)

    Every time I hear that coverage is down. that’s the first question that pops into my mind- how many people WANTED coverage, but can’t get it thanks to the cruelty of their republican-run states? There’s a number we should be shouting from the rooftops.

  11. 11
    rikyrah says:

    How about the FIVE MILLION that won’t get coverage due to the GOP sociopaths not expanding Medicaid?

  12. 12
    Starfish says:

    Hey, there was this good Time article on how the national website was fixed after the original mistakes. I sent it to Mr. Mix to post, and he didn’t do it so I am all butthurt about it.

    You should read it.

  13. 13
    Xantar says:


    I’d love to read that article but it’s behind a paywall.

  14. 14
    RaflW says:

    My partner would qualify for subsidies (he’s a student working part time) but refused to go that route. He enrolled in an ACA compliant plan direct w/ an insurer and is paying it himself. Probably an outlier, but certainly not the only subsidy-refuser who is none the less insured with a non-junk policy.

  15. 15
    RaflW says:

    Oh also, some bullshit org has posted a “resist Obamacare” billboard on I-94 in Minneapolis. Quaint, that.

    Along those lines, Alan West is wasting Adsense coin at the top of my BJ page (ymmv).

  16. 16
    Starfish says:

    @Xantar: That’s strange. It was not paywalled when I read it. Does the paywall go into effect after the magazine hits the newsstands?

  17. 17
    Mnemosyne says:


    Probably an outlier, but certainly not the only subsidy-refuser who is none the less insured with a non-junk policy.

    As I understand it, there really are no junk policies anymore, unless you have one that was grandfathered in. Every new policy offered has to meet the PPACA requirements whether you buy it through the exchanges or not. The only difference is the subsidies.

    Somebody posted a link to a guy on (I think) Zero Hedge a few weeks ago who was exhorting people to kill off Obamacare by buying their policies through an insurance agent instead. He didn’t seem to realize that, with the changes the PPACA made to the industry, it’s Obamacare all the way down now. You can’t get around it except by foregoing health insurance entirely (and even then you have to pay the fine).

  18. 18
    pluege says:

    …and the republican reaction:

    to the CBO saying obamacare will cost less than expected:
    ‘the CBO doesn’t know what its talking about – the CBO is a bunch of liberal political hacks’

    to the CBO saying the website was a mess:
    ‘the Congress’ respected non-partisan agency – the CBO, has verified that obamacare is a failure.’

  19. 19
    mclaren says:

    Once again, the superwealthy one-percenter Richard Mayhew is lying to you.

    Time once again to strip away Mayhew’s lies and get down to the real bad news about the ACA:

    Namely, it does nothing to control costs.

    Let’s take a look at an article by Dr. Arnold Relman from The New York Review of Books:

    Most experts agree that the central problem with the US health care system is its high cost. We can’t afford universal coverage unless there is much better control of medical expenditures, which are now reaching over $2.5 trillion per year. What’s more, without effective control of health costs the federal budget deficit and the national debt will continue to increase. Nevertheless, our political leaders have decided to expand and improve insurance coverage first, while deferring any serious attention to costs.(..)

    …the federal reforms resemble the legislation passed in Massachusetts some four years ago that mandated near-universal coverage but made essentially no provisions for containing the costs that would inevitably ensue. Massachusetts is now struggling with its costs and is being forced to curtail health services. Last year a special state commission for controlling costs suggested replacement of the fee-for-service payment method by global payments to groups of providers in ACOs that would have to be created. Although many experts in Massachusetts agree that fee-for-service is a major impediment to the control of costs, the current payment system is so profitable for most medical providers that they are not inclined to change it. The state legislature therefore recently decided to postpone any action on this idea.

    The Massachusetts experience is likely to be repeated nationally in the next few years. The seemingly optimistic reports of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which were important in supporting the Democrats’ legislative proposals, should not be misunderstood. The deficit reduction predicted by the CBO referred to covering only the added costs of the legislation for the first ten years, not to the likelihood of stemming the continuously rising costs of existing federal programs. Furthermore, the CBO is concerned only with the federal budget, not state budgets, and not the financial condition of the entire health care system, private and public. But even considering only the government’s burden, the current rate of inflation in health costs—between 4 and 6 percent per year—obviously cannot be sustained. (..)

    …The present trajectory of federal health expenditures predicts continued rapid growth of Medicare expenses and the exhaustion of the Medicare Part A fund—which partly covers hospital costs—within a decade or so. Second, most economists agree that the states will not be able to pay the rising costs of Medicaid in future years, when millions of beneficiaries will be added to the rolls. And looking at the private sector, there is increasing evidence that the inflation in the cost of health insurance cannot be supported by employers and employees much longer. In sum, the whole health system, if not radically transformed, seems headed toward bankruptcy. (..) The cost crisis now facing the US health care system urgently calls for more effective control than the new legislation provides. (..) …To produce such change will require elimination of the economic forces that have made medical care a commodity in trade instead of a social service, and have transformed our health care system into a profit-seeking industry. Until we join other advanced countries in treating medical care as a right and not a business, we will have to wait for control of health costs.

    Source: “Health Care: The Disquieting Truth,” Dr. Arnold Relman, The New York Review Of Books, 30 September 2010.

    Parasites like the superrich health care CEO Richard Mayhew are not the solution to America’s health care crisis — they’re the problem.

    Ask yourself: Why won’t Richard Mayhew tell us how much he makes per year as CEO of Mayhew Insurance?

    Because he’s ashamed to. If Richard Mayhew told us the truth, that he makes hundreds of thousands of dollars per year on the backs of the poorest people by leeching money out of the American health care system to inefficiently steer medical care to Medicaid patients when a national single-payer health care system could do it much more cheaply and more efficiently, Mayhew would face a firestorm of criticism.

    What value do parasites like Richard Mayhew add to the American health care system?


    Superwealthy one-percenters like Mayhew suck the life savings out of sick Americans’ bank accounts without providing anything useful in return.

    Naturally, superrich parasites like Mayhew cast themselves as beneficent saviors and trumpet the “good news” about Obama’s non-reform health care “reform.”

    But when we examine the numbers and read articles like Dr. Arnold Relman’s discussion of out-of-control health care costs excerpted above, we instantly realize why Richard Mayhew’s “bad news” becomes inevitable. Without cost controls, fewer medicaid patients will be able to get basic health care as time passes because fewer and fewer poor people on medicaid will be able to find a primary physician as time passes. Health care costs will continue to rise relentlessly, without limit, forcing states to increasingly scale back their medicaid expenditures each year.

    This means that Richard Mayhew is in the business, as Alan Grayson put it, of making sure that “if you get sick, you should die quickly” if you’re too poor to afford unaffordable for-profit health insurance.

    Everyone who reads Richard Mayhew’s front-page posts here needs to email John Cole and tell him to press the eject button on this parasite. Paul Ryan’s lies about phony “deficit reduction plans” are bad enough — we don’t to hear more lies about non-reform health care “reform” from the very superwealthy parasites profiting enormously and obscenely from America’s out-of-control health care costs.

  20. 20
    Another Holocene Human says:

    Way to wear the clownpants, mclaren. If you have a problem with its cost-control measures, fine. But PPACA does, absolutely, contain cost control measures. So your first sentence is a LIE. Fuck all the rest of your copypasta.

  21. 21
    Elie says:


    Just a side but important note: those runaway costs represent jobs for a lot of folks in the current (albeit costly and dysfunctional system). The excess costs propping up their livelihoods has to be managed downwards not just cut if we want to keep job losses and therefore income losses at a certain pace. It is definitely already happening but not in the showy way you would prefer. Forcing a lot of people (and trust me, its mid and lower level people) out of work or to find new work has to be faced squarely and not made into some pie in the sky diatribe about all the “rich insurance people”. Most of the people who work around health benefits and insurance consulting are not rich and are the first to be cut. They have to find work in a less than thrilling economy. Even work for registered nurses is not the gimme it used to be and in some places, is hard to come by.

    So I know you have your fantasy of justice for all the rich insurance folks but take a real look at all the folks that will be affected. Not saying that squeezing cost out is not necessary — just that it has more complexity to the story than your wild eyed preaching laid out.

Comments are closed.