Health coverage was never so costly until President Obama decided to make it “affordable.”
Bloomberg News has tallied up the total cost to taxpayers of Obamacare so far: $73 billion and counting. What Bloomberg didn’t do is compare that cost to the government’s latest estimate of the number of people who have obtained Obamacare coverage: 7.3 million, and possibly falling.
That means taxpayers have shelled out $10,000 per insured person.
Only a relatively small portion of that $73 billion went for actual subsidies to help people afford coverage, according to Bloomberg. The large majority of the money was spent on health IT, exchange grants to get the state websites up and running, and contractor spending. Most of those outlays have been miserable failures.
Oh, and Bloomberg rightly included the $25 billion Democrats stuck in their nearly $800 billion February 2009 stimulus plan to push doctors and hospitals to adopt electronic health records (EHR). Virtually everyone involved concedes that effort is still a “work in progress.”
BUT, that $10,000 per insured person also excludes a number of things. That’s only what taxpayers have spent; it doesn’t include how much those newly insured people are coughing up out of their own pockets for their premiums, which can be thousands of dollars a year.
Nor does it include the money that left-leaning private sector groups funneled to the Obamacare rollout efforts. I don’t think anyone has a good estimate on how much was spent, but it was surely in the millions.
Nor does it include money that then-Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius tried to squeeze from health insurance CEOs to promote Obamacare. She apparently stopped the shakedown when news stories emerged about her practice and how unethical, not to mention illegal, it was for a federal regulator to ask for donations from the very companies she’s regulating.
Since Bloomberg only provides a brief explanation of its methodology, it’s hard to tell whether the $73 billion includes some of the laundered funds. As House Republicans tried to clamp down on the Obamacare budget, some members of Congress told me that HHS was shuffling funds from other departments to subsidize its Obamacare efforts. Was that money accounted for?
Thus, that $10,000 per insured person is on the low end of how much has really been spent.
But at least we’re past all those startup costs so that the $10,000 per enrollee figure will decline as more people get coverage, right? Not necessarily.
For one thing, the government’s most recent estimate of enrollees actually declined. More importantly, since the healthcare.gov website’s backend is still an unworkable disaster and federal officials are warning that the whole thing is susceptible to cyber-hacking, taxpayers could spend billions more before it finally works—if it ever does. That makes Bloomberg’s “and counting” comment both appropriate and possibly prescient.
Democrats rammed this costly boondoggle through Congress hoping that the American people would give them all the credit for it. Let’s hope come November voters do just that.