CBO: By 2019, Taxpayers Will Pay $196 Billion A Year for Obamacare, But 24 Million People Will Remain Uninsured

November 19, 2009 - 11:24 PM
By 2019 taxpayers will be paying $196 billion per year to subsidize other people's health insurance coverage but there will still be 24 million uninsured people in America, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Harry Reid, Senate health care bill

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., with Sens. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, left, and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., leaves a news conference on Capitol Hill after unveiling the Senate’s health care overhaul bill on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2009. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

(CNSNews.com) - Under the health care bill introduced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Wednesday, by 2019 taxpayers will be paying $196 billion per year to subsidize other people’s health insurance coverage, but there still will be 24 million uninsured people in America, according to the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation.

Reid’s proposal mandates that all individuals legally resident in the United States purchase health insurance and offers subsidies to people making up to 400 percent of the poverty level ($88,200 for a family of four) to purchase insurance as long as they buy a federally regulated and approved plan sold in a federally regulated insurance exchange.

According to an analysis published Wednesday by the CBO and JCT, this subsidy will cost taxpayers $196 billion per year by 2019 but will still leave 24 million people uninsured in America, about 8 million of whom will be illegal aliens. The estimate assumes that there would otherwise be about 55 million uninsured people in the United States.

"The gross cost of the coverage expansions, consisting of exchange subsidies, the net costs of expanded eligibility for Medicaid, and tax credits for employers: Those provisions have an estimated cost of $196 billion in 2019, and that cost is growing at about 8 percent per year toward the end of the 10-year budget window. As a rough approximation, CBO assumes continued growth at about that rate during the following decade," says the joint CBO and JCT analysis.

“By 2019, CBO and JCT estimate, the number of nonelderly people who are uninsured would be reduced by about 31 million, leaving about 24 million nonelderly residents uninsured (about one-third of whom would be unauthorized immigrants),” says the CBO and JCT analysis.

Table 3 in  the report indicates that when the health-insurance mandate and subsidy program becomes fully operational in 2014 there will be 35 million uninsured in the United States and this number will drop to 23 million by 2018 before rising back to 24 million in 2019. The report does not indicate how many uninsured people will remain after 2019, or whether the upward trend between 2018 and 2019 will continue.

Table 3 also shows that the cost to taxpayers of paying the insurance subsidies in the bill as well as the cost for increased eligibility for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) instituted under the bill will dramatically escalate over the next decade.

In 2010, the year of the next congressional election, the gross cost of the subsidies is expected to be $0. In 2012, the year of the next presidential election, the gross cost of the subsidies in the bill is expected to be only $4 billion. But in 2014, the costs are expected to dramatically escalate to $48 billion for the year.  From that point on, the costs increase every year, jumping to $147 billion by 2016 and then to $196 billion by 2019.

Correction: An earlier posting of this story inaccurately said that the cost of subsidizing health insurance under the Reid health care bill would be $194 billion by 2019. The correct figure is $196 billion.