The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on Wednesday announced that it has increased its estimate of the number of “Americans [who] will pay the health care tax rather than obtain coverage under President Obama’s health care law” by 50 percent to 6 million, the Washington Times reports.
“CBO also said there will be 30 million people without insurance, though all but the 6 million will be exempt from the tax. The exempt Americans are a combination of illegal immigrants and those with incomes too low to pay income taxes,” the report adds.
The agency claims the tax will bring in about $7 billion in 2016, and $8 billion in 2017.
“The projections apply to 2016, the point at which most of President Obama’s health care law will be implemented and the penalty for failing to buy coverage will have risen to its full amount of $695 per person or 2.5 percent of household income, whichever is greater,” the Times report adds.
So why the massive revision?
First, as the Times notes, Congress passed into law legislation requiring U.S. citizens to “pay back more health insurance subsidies if they’re overpaid,” which, of course, will dissuade people from pursuing coverage. Second, the economy has not exactly improved, meaning jobs are scarcer, money is tighter, and insurance will be harder for people to afford.
“And some low-income Americans may have less access to expanded Medicaid programs than originally expected,” the Times continues.
“Several states are expected to opt out of expanding Medicaid, after the Supreme Court ruled in June that the government can’t respond by stripping away all their funding for the program,” the report adds.
“The six million expected to pay the penalty is a relatively small percentage of the 30 million non-elderly residents who will be uninsured in 2016.”
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Front page photo source courtesy the AP. This story has been updated.