Obamacare enrollment is lagging far behind what economists had projected, the Congressional Budget Office said in a new report that cuts the total number of customers expected to buy plans on the exchanges from 21 million down to just 13 million this year.
Of those, 11 million will be getting government subsidies — down from the 15 million the CBO had projected just a year ago.
The updated projections came as part of the CBO’s 2016 budget outlook, and confirm the administration’s own dim estimates of how many people would take advantage of the health exchanges, which are at the heart of President Obama’s health law.
Enrollment has lagged behind what analysts had projected when the law was passed in 2010 as the exchanges were plagued with technical problems, with stricter payback requirements for those who claim too much in federal tax credits, and with a higher-than-anticipated number of Americans gambling on paying the tax penalty rather than buying coverage.
The CBO said it would release a full analysis of health enrollment in a couple of months, but for now, the updated projections for 2016 will add to the challenges facing Mr. Obama, who has less than a year left in office to try to set his health law on firmer footing.
The Obama administration had already dropped its own projections of enrollment, saying the pool of available customers was smaller than it thought, so there are simply fewer people to be nudged into signing up.