(Thisarticle has been updated with a correction.)
Higher-than-expected enrollment, lower-than-expected premiums and subsidy costs, and increased interest from insurers made last week a good one for Obamacare, leaving Republican critics scrambling to figure out how to respond.
President Barack Obama announced on Thursday that 8 million Americans had signed up for private health plans on the federal and state insurance exchanges by the end of extended open enrollment April 15. “This thing is working,” Obama said at the White House. “We now know for a fact that repealing the Affordable Care Act would increase the deficit, raise premiums for millions of Americans and take insurance away from millions more.”
In addition, the Congressional Budget Office last week lowered its 10-year cost estimate for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act by more than $100 billion. The main reason is it expects premiums to be 15% lower in 2016 than previously projected, meaning the government will spend less on premium subsidies. The CBO said the lower premiums result from insurers offering exchange plans with narrower provider networks and more restrictions on care than are typical of the employer-based market.
The CBO also estimated that 5 million Americans signed up for individual-market insurance for 2014 outside the Obamacare exchanges.