WASHINGTON – Nearly 6 million Americans – significantly more than first estimated- will face a tax penalty under President Barack Obama‘s health overhaul for not getting insurance, congressional analysts said Wednesday. Most would be in the middle class.
The new estimate amounts to an inconvenient fact for the administration, a reminder of what critics see as broken promises.
The numbers from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office are 50 percent higher than a previous projection by the same office in 2010, shortly after the law passed. The earlier estimate found 4 million people would be affected in 2016, when the penalty is fully in effect.
That’s still only a sliver of the population, given that more than 150 million people currently are covered by employer plans. Nonetheless, in his first campaign for the White House, Obama pledged not to raise taxes on individuals making less than $200,000 a year and couples making less than $250,000.
Starting in 2014, the new health care law requires virtually every legal resident of the U.S. to carry health insurance, or face a tax penalty. The Supreme Court upheld Obama’s law as constitutional after finding that the penalty fell within the power of Congress to impose taxes.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Wednesday the penalty will raise $6.9 billion when fully in effect in 2016.