Obamacare may not be as expensive as we thought

Published: Thursday, April 17 2014 11:55 p.m. MDT

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden stand with outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, second from left, and his nominee to be her replacement, Budget Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Friday, April 11, 2014, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington.

Charles Dharapak, Associated Press

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The overall cost of the Affordable Care Act has received a second look by The Congressional Budget Office, and the future looks bright for the longterm expenses of the law.

The report, which was released with the help of the Joint Committee on Taxation stated that both agencies "now estimate that the ACA’s coverage provisions will result in lower net costs to the federal government.”

According to the CBO, the net cost of the Affordable Care Act is projected to cost $5 billion less in 2014 than originally projected. The projected cost from 2015 to 2024 is estimated to cost $104 billion less than originally expected.

“CBO's new forecasts reflect the fact that premiums on the exchange have come in slightly lower than initially expected,” Vox’s Sarah Kliff wrote Monday after the report was published online. “The ones being sold this year tend to pay doctors less and have ‘narrower networks of providers.’ When health plans contract with fewer doctors, they typically can negotiate cheaper prices with the few physicians they do include in their networks.”

Many outlets, such as Business Insider, are trumpeting the CBO report as “another big win for Obamacare,” citing other recent "triumphs" as reason to believe the law is meeting its desired ends.

In recent weeks, the global policy think tank RAND Corporation published a report that estimated “a net gain of 9.3 million in the number of American adults with health insurance coverage from September 2013 to mid-March 2014” due in some extent to the ACA.

Though the RAND report reiterated the fact that only 1.4 million of those reported to have signed up in the exchanges were previously uninsured, the drop in the percentage of uninsured Americans (from 20.5 percent to 15.8 percent) has been seen as a sign that the ACA is indeed working.

Vox’s Ezra Klein goes as far as to say that the resignation of former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is a sign that the Obama administration believes “the Obamacare crisis is over.”

According to Klein, Sebelius’ resignation is “coming at a moment when Obamacare's successes are getting tougher and tougher to deny,” and supporters of the law are likely to interpret the CBO report as further proof that those who claim Obamacare to be a “complete and utter failure” are running out of room for their criticisms.

Others, however, aren't so convinced. One of Obamacare's most outspoken critics, Betsy McCaughey, appeared on Fox News' "Your World" to discuss the CBO report and what it means for the future of Obamacare. Though the CBO report was the topic of the segment, McCaughey shifted her focus elsewhere, warning of impending disasters unrelated to the costs of the law.

"You're going to hear a lot of desperation from cancer patients when they discover these Obamacare exchange plans won't let them go to any specialty cancer hospitals," she told Fox News' Neil Cavuto.

McCaughey's prediction is based on an interpretation of a report by the Associated Press that indicated only four of the 19 "nationally recognized comprehensive cancer centers that responded to AP's survey" are covered by all insurance companies offered in their respective state's exchanges.

JJ Feinauer is a web producer for Moneywise and Opinion on DeseretNews.com. Email: jfeinauer@deseretdigital.com, Twitter: jjfeinauer.

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