CBO: Number of people required to pay Obamacare penalty increases

Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor

The Congressional Budget Office now estimates that six million people will pay a penalty for not possessing health insurance as mandated under the Affordable Care Act, an increase of two million from the CBO’s 2010 analysis.

The CBO also estimates that the penalty will rake in $7 billion for the federal government in 2016, and will generate $8 billion per year between 2017 and 2022. The amount the government would collect from the uninsured also rose by $3 billion per year.

Furthermore, 15 percent of the increase in the number of people who would be penalized under the health care law was due to the Supreme Court decision in June. The CBO now predicts that some states will not expand their Medicaid programs or won’t expand coverage to the fullest extent of the law.

“Such state decisions are projected to increase the number of uninsured, a small percentage of whom will be subject to the penalty tax,” according to the CBO.

The majority of the increase — 85 percent — in the number of people paying a penalty comes from changes in the CBO and Joint Committee on Taxation’s baseline projections and other technical updates.

The ACA imposes a flat fee of $695 per person — which is indexed for inflation — in 2016, with the penalty for children being half that for adults and a cap for penalties imposed on families. That, or the penalty is 2.5 percent of a household’s income starting in 2016.

The CBO estimates that 30 million people will be uninsured in 2016, but most won’t be subject to penalty. Illegal immigrants can’t receive most Medicaid benefits or any subsidies through the insurance exchanges, but are exempted from the health insurance mandate.

However, the CBO and JCT estimate up to 19 million uninsured people in 2016 will be exempt from the penalty, due to economic hardship, religious beliefs and other factors.

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