In some unsurprising news, the CBO analysis shows that the repealing all of the funding for Obamacare while leaving its mandates in place would be devastating. According to the CBO, 17 million people would be uninsured by 2018 compared with the number of uninsured under the Affordable Care Act. That number would increase to 27 million in 2020 after the ACA’s Medicaid expansion and subsidies for marketplace insurance are eliminated. It gets worse. By 2026, some 32 million Americans would be uninsured.
But if the numbers of uninsured are staggering, then the increase in premiums for those who have their insurance either through Obamacare-established marketplaces or private purchase, is equally disconcerting. Premiums “would increase by roughly 25 percent—relative to projections under current law—in 2018. The increase would reach about 50 percent in 2020, and premiums would about double by 2026,” the CBO found. In addition, the insurance market would further shrink, leaving “about half of the nation’s population” in areas where marketplace or individual insurance is unavailable.
In short, the Obamacare repeal is worse than the BCRA because it eliminates funding but keeps all of Obamacare’s financial demands in place or, in the words of the CBO, “downward pressure on enrollment and upward pressure on premiums.” Were this last-ditch effort to repeal Obamacare to pass, it could turn the insurance market into chaos. As the New York Times noted earlier this month:
Obamacare’s insurance markets depend on the voluntary participation of private insurance companies, and most of them see those markets as difficult long-term investments. Many of them might choose to retreat to safer lines of business in the uncertain “zombie” period between the passage of such a repeal bill and its ultimate enactment.
That’s, in part, what makes the repeal-and-replace plan so risky. Not only would it leave millions more uninsured if Republicans couldn’t pass a bill, but it also would leave those in the Obamacare exchanges with incredibly precarious, if not entirely unaffordable insurance.