Six million Americans will pay the health care tax rather than obtain coverage under President Obama’s health care law, according to a new Congressional Budget Office estimate Wednesday – a 50 percent increase over CBO’s estimate of just two years ago.
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 agency said the government will collect about $7 billion from the tax in 2016, and $8 billion a year thereafter.
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 agency gave several reasons for revising its projections. For one thing, Congress has passed legislation requiring Americans to pay back more health insurance subsidies if they’re overpaid, making buying coverage less attractive.
The economy is also improving more slowly than expected, leading to lower wages and salaries that could make it harder to buy coverage.
And some low-income Americans may have less access to expanded Medicaid programs than originally expected. 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 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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