On Thursday, the Health and Human Services department said it would cut the Affordable Care Act’s advertising budget by 90 percent, to $10 million, and would also reduce spending on groups that help customers find the appropriate insurance plan. The administration called the cuts necessary reductions for programs that have run their course and aren’t efficient.
Those who have studied the law or helped run it say otherwise. They say such drastic reductions look like efforts to let the program wither, as Trump has threatened, two months before sign-ups open.
A group that is supposed to help Native Americans sign up for Obamacare coverage in South Dakota received $200,000 in federal funds to support its efforts — and managed to sign up just one person in an Obamacare plan, the Trump administration said Wednesday.
…however, with this only being one egregious example, the whole story led me to wonder:
Just how much has Obamacare cost, on a per-enrollee basis?
In the morass of advertising, outreach, and Healthcare.gov budget costs, getting a final per-enrollee price tag is difficult to say the least. It took looking back to a 2015 article from The Daily Mail, which examined a CBO report on the law:
It will cost the federal government – taxpayers, that is – $50,000 for every person who gets health insurance under the Obamacare law, the Congressional Budget Office revealed on Monday.
The number comes from figures buried in a 15-page section of the nonpartisan organization’s new ten-year budget outlook.
The best-case scenario described by the CBO would result in ‘between 24 million and 27 million’ fewer Americans being uninsured in 2025, compared to the year before the Affordable Care Act took effect.
Pulling that off will cost Uncle Sam about $1.35 trillion – or $50,000 per head.
Bear in mind, this report is from 2015, written by an Obama-controlled CBO that almost certainly boosted expectations across the board. The Daily Mail’s summary was even more unnerving:
- Stunning figure comes from Congressional Budget Office report that revised cost estimates for the next 10 years
- Government will spend $1.993 TRILLION over a decade and take in $643 BILLION in new taxes, penalties and fees related to Obamacare
- The $1.35 trillion net cost will result in ‘between 24 million and 27 million’ fewer Americans being uninsured – a $50,000 price tag per person at best
- The law will still leave ‘between 29 million and 31 million’ nonelderly Americans without medical insurance
- Numbers assume Obamacare insurance exchange enrollment will double between now and 2025
Even with the rosiest of CBO assumptions, implying a doubling of enrollment, the best case estimate of $50,000 per person is stunning… but if you’ve been keeping up with Obamacare developments, it would hardly be surprising.
The CBO’s projections only go out to 2025, but even amortizing the overly optimistic CBO projections over ten years leads to a sobering conclusion:
It would have made more sense to just hand “eligible” customers $5,000 per annum to spend on health insurance, than it would have been to enact Obamacare.
While this conclusion oversimplifies the healthcare problem (which will not simply be eliminated by Obamacare’s repeal), it is demonstrative of just how expensive and wasteful the healthcare law has been.
But of course, it’s all “Trump’s fault” for slashing already ineffective advertising spending. Perhaps the mainstream media would do well to acknowledge that Trump might just have a point when stating that advertising spending programs “aren’t efficient”?