The Obamacare Price Tag: Another Broken Promise

The Obamacare Price Tag is $73 billion and continues to climb—more than was ever mentioned as a possibility.

burning money

Right along with the promise that, “If you like your plan you can keep your plan,” and “If you like your doctor you can keep your doctor,” was another lie: The Affordable Care Act will save money.

No, it is a spending boondoggle.

Thus, Bloomberg News reports, “Health Reform’s Cost: $73 Billion and Counting.”

Nearly five years after passage, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and a companion electronic health records (EHR) program have run a startup tab of more than $73 billion, the Bloomberg Government analysis finds.

Part of that total is the cost of healthcare.gov, the flawed website and related enrollment system intended to expand U.S. health insurance coverage.

BGOV’s analysis shows that costs for both healthcare.gov and the broader reform effort are far greater than anything publicly discussed. They’re also substantially greater than what the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) initially estimated health reform would cost by this point, although not what the agency’s more recent piecemeal estimates suggest.

Meanwhile, the changes in health-care financing and delivery on which the money is being spent remain very much in their startup phase.

In fact, after the CBO realized they had been too low in their calculation (or guesstimates), and began increasing their estimates of costs, they still underestimated the price of Obamacare.

Of course, the higher costs include the premium subsidies. However, those have actually not even met expectations yet.

IRS-distributed premium subsidies, the health law’s chief means of expanding health insurance coverage, are being paid out at a far slower pace than forecast. Subsidy payments are on track to total about $15 billion in fiscal 2014, or only 40 percent of the $36.7 billion that the administration predicted in February they would total this fiscal year. Treasury spokeswoman Erin Donar confirmed the subsidy payout numbers on which the $15 billion estimate for the full fiscal year is based. She said that in more recent administration documents the expected payout total has been reduced by about $3 billion.

Of course, subsidies will have to grow as rates increase (as they have already increased). So I expect that subsidies will eventually contribute a great deal more to how much Obamacare runs over budget.

None of this is affordable. It just brings us that much closer to the brink that much faster.