In new figures out Monday, the nonpartisan office said the net loss would add up to about 5 million -- the anticipated loss of employer coverage on one end would be offset in part by the expectation that a new mandate would drive other employers to cover millions more workers who are not currently covered.
But the estimate assumes many employers, particularly small businesses with low-wage workers, would opt to pay the fine and drop their insurance plans. The CBO estimated this would affect between 9 million and 10 million workers.
The estimate was provided after Republicans pressed the CBO for details on employer coverage, and it added fuel to the GOP argument that President Obama's claim that nobody will be forced to give up their private coverage is bunk. It comes in the middle of a heated debate in the Senate over whether and how the government should enter the market with its own insurance plan.
"If you like what you have you can't keep it," the Senate Republican office said in an e-mail highlighting the CBO report and keying off the president's refrain.
Though some of those who lose their coverage would be eligible for government subsidies to buy insurance, some would not, according to the CBO.
For instance, a family of four making more than $88,000 would not qualify for subsidies and could face even higher premiums in the private market.