2018 MIDTERM ELECTION

Time: D H M S

Anti-ACA budget analysis actually concludes that HC.gov cost 57% as much as prior estimate

Hat Tip To: 
Bob H.

Thanks to contributor Bob H. for bringing my attention to a new ACA budget study which claims that the Healthcare.Gov federal exchange has cost more than $2 billion to date, and that the total cost of the ACA since 2010 has reached $73 billion:

The total price tag for ObamaCare's main enrollment portal now stands at more than $2 billion, according to a new analysis by Bloomberg Government. 

The new total, released Wednesday, includes efforts to construct and then fix HealthCare.gov after serious technical problems threatened to shutter the site last fall.

In all, implementation of the Affordable Care Act has cost more than $73 billion since its enactment in 2010, the analysis found. 

I'm not going to get into the "$73 billion" part, since that includes a lot of questionable budget items such as around $14.5 billion of it being exchange premium subsidies (that is, I'm not saying those amounts are wrong, but it's highly questionable whether they should be counted as the "cost" of the law itself). This point is made in the same article by CMS itself:

"The GAO, HHS’s Inspector General and the Department all measured the cost of Marketplace-related IT contracts for HealthCare.gov. But this report measures different things, and not surprisingly, produces a different number,” said CMS spokesman Aaron Albright in a statement.

However, there is one number which I do want to take note of: The $2 Billion for HC.gov.

A few weeks ago, I posted a snarky-but-true story about a truly disastrous "alternative" exchange in Florida, spearheaded by Republican Senator Marco Rubio, which managed to only enroll 30 people (that's Three-Zero) in six months, at a cost of $900,000 to Florida taxpayers...or $30,000 apiece.

When I compared this against the other state exchanges, as well as HC.gov, it came out laughably higher: Up to 46x as much as the federal exchange, and far higher per enrollee than every other state-based exchange (with the possible exception of Hawaii).

This was based on an assumed Federal exchange cost of $3.5 billion, or $647 per person, which I in turn got from a Christian Science Monitor article on the subject.

HOWEVER, if this new "damning" Bloomberg Government study is correct about HC.gov "only" costing $2 billion instead, that means that the earlier cost of the federal exchange was overstated by 75% (or, conversely, that it actually cost only 57% of what was previously reported).

Assuming this is accurate, that means that the actual cost-per-enrollee at HC.gov to date is only $367 per person instead of $647.

As an amusing aside, it also means that the Florida GOP's "healthcare exchange" (which doesn't actually sell health insurance, but rather "discount cards" and the like) has actually cost up to 81x as much per enrollee as the federal ACA exchange.