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Recently Minnesota Representative Michelle Bachmann told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that tens of millions of Americans would soon be losing employer-supported health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act. Is this true?

Recently Republican member of Congress from Minnesota Michelle Bachman told CNN's Wolf Blitzer in an on-air interview:

“We know now the estimates from the government that about 30 million people are going to be cut off their employer health insurance because of Obamacare.”

But is this really the case? Well, no not really.

Where Congressman Bachmann Got Her Figures

The Minnesota Congressman's office was able to back up part of her assertion, part way, as an extreme case.  In 2012, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), a non-partisan auditing group that seeks to verify the real costs of federal programs, released a statement saying:

"CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) continue to expect that the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—the health care legislation enacted in March 2010—will lead to a small reduction in the number of people receiving employment-based health insurance."

The Affordable Care Act offers better coverage, lower deductibles, and lower premium costs for many families, so it's not a stretch to understand that some employers will encourage their workers to sign up for it. The CBO estimated that a maximum of 20 million people, not 30 million as Bachmann said, might go off employer-run health insurance programs, but their model also predicted that as many as 3 million more Americans might get employer-paid health insurance as a result of changes in the law.

However, even though a later CNN news story said the Congresswoman's office cited the CBO study to back up her statement, nothing in the CBO study precisely confirms her claim.

Nobody Has a Crystal Ball for Obamacare

The Congressional Budget Office looked at different possibilities in sign up rates for the simple reason that the more low-income people sign up for coverage on their own, the greater the subsidies the federal government will have to pay.

If employers drop coverage, the federal government may be picking it up.

Analysts at the CBO do not suppose that surveying employers about what they plan to do will necessarily result in knowing their real plans.

However, if employers do drop health insurance coverage for their employees, the Federal government expects to take in more tax revenues. How does the federal governmetn take in more money when people don't get health insurance? How could that possibly make sense? The reason is because wages are taxable but employer-paid health insurance is not. In fact, under the assumption that the maximum number of employers drop health insurance coverage and then pay their employees higher salaries in return, the federal government takes in an additional $127 billion a year.

Maybe Ms. Bachmann is secretly in favor of higher taxes, so she exaggerated the potential number of workers who would be paying more. Or maybe Ms. Bachmann just made a little oopsie when she said 30 million people will lose coverage when she was referring to a study that found that maybe 3 million would actually gain it. We don't know. But we do know that the government expects that most people who lose employer coverage will just get better and cheaper insurance through the exchanges, when they start enrolling applicants.

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