Another article from health care policy expert Avik Roy in Forbes magazine.
A growing consensus of IT experts, outside and inside the government, have figured out a principal reason why the website for Obamacare’s federally-sponsored insurance exchange is crashing. Healthcare.gov forces you to create an account and enter detailed personal information before you can start shopping. This, in turn, creates a massive traffic bottleneck, as the government verifies your information and decides whether or not you’re eligible for subsidies. HHS bureaucrats knew this would make the website run more slowly. But they were more afraid that letting people see the underlying cost of Obamacare’s insurance plans would scare people away.
“Healthcare.gov was initially going to include an option to browse before registering,” report Christopher Weaver and Louise Radnofsky in the Wall Street Journal. “But that tool was delayed, people familiar with the situation said.” Why was it delayed? “An HHS spokeswoman said the agency wanted to ensure that users were aware of their eligibility for subsidies that could help pay for coverage, before they started seeing the prices of policies.” (Emphasis added.)
As you know if you’ve been following this space, Obamacare’s bevy of mandates, regulations, taxes, and fees drives up the cost of the insurance plans that are offered under the law’s public exchanges. AManhattan Institute analysis I helped conduct found that, on average, the cheapest plan offered in a given state, under Obamacare, will be 99 percent more expensive for men, and 62 percent more expensive for women, than the cheapest plan offered under the old system. And those disparities are even wider for healthy people.
That raises an obvious question. If 50 million people are uninsured today, mainly because insurance is too expensive, why is it better to make coverage even costlier?
The answer is that Obamacare wasn’t designed to help healthy people with average incomes get health insurance. It was designed to force those people to pay more for coverage, in order to subsidize insurance for people with incomes near the poverty line, and those with chronic or costly medical conditions.
But the laws’ supporters and enforcers don’t want you to know that, because it would violate the President’s incessantly repeated promise that nothing would change for the people that Obamacare doesn’t directly help. If you shop for Obamacare-based coverage without knowing if you qualify for subsidies, you might be discouraged by the law’s steep costs.
So, by analyzing your income first, if you qualify for heavy subsidies, the website can advertise those subsidies to you instead of just hitting you with Obamacare’s steep premiums. For example, the site could advertise plans that cost “$0″ or “$30″ instead of explaining that the plan really costs $200, and that you’re getting a subsidy of $200 or $170. But you’ll have to be at or near the poverty line to gain subsidies of that size; most people will either not qualify for a subsidy, or qualify for a small one that, net-net, doesn’t make up for the law’s cost hikes.
This political objective—masking the true underlying cost of Obamacare’s insurance plans—far outweighed the operational objective of making the federal website work properly. Think about it the other way around. If the “Affordable Care Act” truly did make health insurance more affordable, there would be no need to hide these prices from the public.
The plain truth of the matter is that you can’t lower the costs of health care by covering more people or by covering more treatments or by regulating more doctors. All of those things don’t lower the cost of health insurance – they raise it. The subsidies that the Democrats are offering are costs that are being added to the deficit. They will have to be paid by job creators and their employees through higher taxes later. Obamacare didn’t solve a thing. It just adds costs and complexity. It’s the equivalent of shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic.
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- Obamacare supporters shocked that they have to pay for Obamacare
- How many people have signed up for Obamacare?
- Are House Republicans doing anything wrong by refusing to fund Obamacare?
- New study: premiums for young people to rise in all 50 states under Obamacare
- Why do so many people oppose Obamacare and why isn’t Obama willing to fix it?
- Obama lied, health care died: 10 states where Obamacare killed existing health care plans
- Obamacare health insurance exchanges impose massive penalties on married couples
- Republicans introduce Obamacare alternative: American Health Care Reform Act
- Nancy Pelosi: forcing workers to work fewer hours gives them “freedom”
- Obamacare will increase average individual-market premiums by 99% for men
- Obamacare in action: 301 employers cut employee hours and/or jobs
- Surprise! New Stanford University study finds costs of Obamacare higher than estimated
- New study finds that many young people won’t purchase Obamacare plans
- Blue Cross, Aetna, United, Humana opt out of Obamacare exchanges
- President Obama intervenes to exempt Congress from Obamacare
- IRS employee union opposes making Obamacare apply to themselves