Politics

Forbes, Fox News Push Conspiracy Theory About Obamacare Website Glitches

| by Michael Allen

When former President George W. Bush’s new Medicare Drug Program debuted on Jan 1, 2006, it was a technological disaster.

Similarly, Obamacare’s website Healthcare.gov has had its technical glitches, but unlike the Medicare Drug Program’s limping start, Obamacare is being accused by Forbes and Fox News of an evil conspiracy.

According to Avik Roy of Forbes, Obamacare is tricking people because it asks for their information before displaying prices set by the insurance companies. Roy believes this reverse order is some sort plot to keep Americans from seeing the insurance prices they eventually will see after they register for Obamacare.

Roy writes:

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.

However, Roy fails to mention that Obamacare doesn’t actually set the prices of the insurance rates — the insurance companies do. The Obamacare health care exchanges, which are accessed via HealthCare.gov, simply categorize different health insurance plans in different states, with prices set by the insurance companies.

Roy repeats the fallacy that Obamacare sets insurance premium prices, adding, “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.”

HealthCare.gov states, “Insurance plans in the Marketplace are offered by private companies,” which debunks the rumors that Obamacare is actually offering health care plans.

ThinkProgress.org reports that Fox News ran with Roy’s false claims this morning:

The network ran a segment on Tuesday morning explaining that the White House knew about potential glitches before HealthCare.gov launched on Oct. 1, “but did nothing to stop it because the White House doesn’t want to show you how expensive those plans really are.”

If that sounds too ridiculous to believe, it is. The administration may have hoped to immediately present consumers with their subsidized rates to reduce confusion, but it never tried to hide the unsubsidized cost of coverage.

Sources: Forbes, ThinkProgress.org, HealthCare.gov, Slate.com