As Congress continues hearings this week into the troubled Healthcare.gov web site — the online interface set up to allow Americans to buy health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare” — one of the main issues is the total cost of the bug-prone portal.
The figure most often quoted is a shocking $600 million. But that amount is just wrong, according to analysts who have actually crunched the numbers.
The real figure is approximately $112 million, according to numbers that came out of the hearings held by the House Ways and Means Committee last week, and reported in the Washington Post. The tab could run as high as $292 million, though that number is the upper limit of what the government might spend. In all likelihood, costs won’t run that high.
The web site, along with sites operated at the state level in 15 states, is the primary method by which the estimated 48 million Americans without any health insurance may now purchase a plan.
As a point of comparison, even if the government spent the entire $292 million on developing its health care web site, the cost would barely cover a single day of funding for the war in Afghanistan, estimated by the Pentagon at $300 million per day.
For that matter, even if the oft-repeated $600 million total were accurate, the cost of allowing the 15 percent of all Americans who don’t have health coverage to finally get it would still not be quite enough to pay for two days of war in Afghanistan.
According to the financial services company Standard & Poor’s, the recent government shutdown, which started as an attempt by opponents of the new health care law to delay or stop it altogether, cost the country $24 billion — enough money to pay for 80 Healthcare.gov web sites.
And the shutdown cost could grow more bloated still, with a deadline of Jan. 15 to work out a new spending agreement that will prevent yet another shutdown.
“The short turnaround for politicians to negotiate some sort of lasting deal will likely weigh on consumer confidence, especially among government workers that were furloughed,” according to a statement by Standard & Poor’s.
Sources: Washington Post, National Memo, Time.com, AFP