Obamacare price tag since 2010: $73 billion and counting

An analysis by Bloomberg Government has found that the start up costs for Obamacare "are far greater than anything publicly discussed." The report shows that the total cost has exceeded $73 billion dollars, with $2 billion alone - and counting - spent on the Obamacare website, healthcare.gov.

Health care analyst Peter Gosselin:

"Whether policymakers and the public judge the $73-billion-plus tab for health reform reasonable or exorbitant may ultimately turn on what's used as the measuring stick," wrote senior healthcare analyst Peter Gosselin. 

"Measured against the development costs for the F-35 joint strike fighter [$54.9 billion], the Defense Department's single most expensive weapons system, the tab for the healthcare effort can seem quite high," he continued. 

"Measured against the U.S. healthcare industry that the administration seeks to overhaul, however, the costs of the reform effort appear tiny."

Why would you want to measure Obamacare start up costs against the entire US health industry? The fact that the rollout of this turkey has cost the US taxpayer more than development costs for a supersonic jet fighter is absurd.

Unlike most estimates, the BGOV analysis is built in part around its proprietary contracts database, which allows it to look at the federal government generally and health reform in particular from the vantage point of spending, rather than solely of the federal budget.

A wide range of grant records, program documents and government spending reports were also consulted to come up with a cost total through Sept. 30, the end of fiscal 2014, of $73.5 billion.

The total excludes the cost of the ACA-mandated expansion of Medicaid because reliable spending numbers, as opposed to forecasts, have yet to be made publicly available. The CBO estimates that the health law will boost Medicaid spending by $20 billion in fiscal 2014 and by more than $350 billion through 2019. If the CBO estimate proves correct, health reform costs to date would be almost 25 percent higher, or more than $90 billion.

Among the key findings of the BGOV analysis:

Despite the $73-billion-plus price tag, there have been gaps in the startup, especially at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS plays a crucial role in the ACA machinery, but has contracted for as little as a 10th of what it was predicted that the tax agency would need to spend to implement its portions of the health overhaul.

  • 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.
  • While public attention has centered on the troubles of healthcare.gov and the drive to expand health-insurance coverage, the administration has quietly devoted slightly more than half of the startup total to date, or nearly $40 billion, to pursuing the reform effort’s other major goal, overhauling the health-care delivery system.
  • Because so little about health reform’s costs have been released, the price tags for even financially small parts of the startup, such as healthcare.gov, have become the subject of sharp dispute.

What we all tend to forget is that there's still about 40% of the ACA that hasn't even been implemented yet. Most of the provisions for business have been delayed until next year or even 2016. The Medicare "doc fix" has been put off. And the ticking bomb of those grandfathered plans that were originally to be canceled, but temporarily reinstated, may not be offered by all insurance companies this year.

Perhaps most disconcerting of all, is the inability of the government to monitor and track the spending for the ACA. And apparenty what numbers they do release are bogus.

The Congressional Budget Office no longer scores Obamacare because the president has altered the law so massively. In truth, we have no idea how much this monstrosity is going to cost us over the next decade. Last report was $2.1 trillion. I would imagine that number has ballooned since then.

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