CBO: 4 to 7 million workers may lose job-based health insurance

Millions of workers may find themselves without employer-sponsored health insurance as employers struggle to reconcile the costs of the new employer-based health plan regulations, according to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report released Tuesday.

The Affordable Care Act mandated dozens of changes to employer-based health plans, including what the plans must include as benefits in 2013 if the employer wishes to offer coverage to its employees. The changes were intended to keep employers from limiting plans to partial or inadequate coverage, and the CBO had anticipated that employers would weigh the costs of the new health plans against the federal fines for refusing to offer coverage.

In this week’s report, the CBO has revised its projections of how many employers might choose to drop employer-provided insurance offerings, raising the number of workers who could lose their employer-based benefits to 4–7 million.

A further complication is that the main, planned alternative to employer-based health plans—the health insurance marketplaces—may not be ready to accept enrollees this year as hoped, the CBO said in the report.

The CBO’s estimations assume that all relevant laws will remain unchanged through the projection periods.

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