Taking a closer look at Obamacare costs

When President Obama announced his plan for HealthCare.gov, a lot of promises were made. However, when October 1, 2013 rolled around — those promises turned out to be a lot of problems. A website crash combined with fundamental flaws created an expensive and confusing health care problem for millions of Americans.

But as the problems continue to pile up, so do the costs. The Obama administration estimated at least $840 million has been spent on the health care website alone — but the actual amount is much more than that.

According to a Bloomberg Government analysis (BGov), the federal government’s enrollment system has cost over $2.1 billion.

And where’s that money going? Peter Gosselin, a senior health care adviser at Bloomberg and the lead author of the study, said the expense lies in a disorganized roll-out process by the Obama administration.

“The way in which Obamacare has been rolled out has been very messy,” with spending scattered across dozens of contracts, many of them predating the law and amended afterward, said Peter Gosselin, a senior health-care analyst at BGov and lead author of study. “One of the reasons it has been implemented in the way it has been, financially, is precisely to deny opponents of the law a clear target.”

Plus, things like overlapping contracts (60 contractors managed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services instead of one lead contractor) lead to what Bloomberg calls “infighting,” as well as disorganized project management. Oh, and don’t forget about the millions of unnecessary dollars being spent.

But why is there such a large difference between the administration’s estimate of $840 Million and the actual cost of $2.1 billion?

BGov’s price tag includes several large costs left out of the Obama administration’s estimate: $387 million in spending for healthcare.gov by the IRS and other agencies outside the health department; a $300 million contract to process paper applications; and spending by CMS after Feb. 28.

And even after all that money has been spent, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) points out:

“The site ‘still isn’t secure, doesn’t let people easily compare doctors and medications covered by each plan, and has not processed all of the applications from last year’s open enrollment.”

But these expensive mistakes don’t stop there. As we look ahead at round two of open enrollment, it doesn’t look like the spending is letting up anytime soon.

The BGov analysis estimates the government will spend $14.9 billion through the end of September to reduce premiums for people purchasing Obamacare plans. The administration predicted it would spend more than twice as much: $36.7 billion.

I mean, it’s just money right? Wrong. It’s American taxpayer money that’s being inefficiently and haphazardly spent as they try to craft a one-size-fits all health care system. Americans need a bottom-up approach to their health care access and costs  — one that allows them to keep their doctors and negotiate costs. Right now, we certainly don’t have that.

House Republicans will continue working to put health care decision-making back into the hands of Americans — and away from an overreaching federal government. We’ve started by passing alternative health care solutions and continually hold the executive branch accountable — but we aren’t stopping there. House Republicans understand that Americans are empowered when they are able to make their own choices about their health care and their lives, and we will continue to work with Americans’ needs in mind.