Obamacare Exchanges Price Tag: $4.9 Billion

Posted: May 12, 2014 8:25 AM

When the federal health exchanges launched and crashed last fall through Healthcare.gov, half-a-million dollars went to waste as government officials continued to throw money at the problem. At the state level, the numbers are just as bad, if not worse. According to numbers published by POLITICO and put out by the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation, failing state exchanges have already cost taxpayers $454 million and in the end will cost as much as $4.9 billion.

Nearly half a billion dollars in federal money has been spent developing four state Obamacare exchanges that are now in shambles — and the final price tag for salvaging them may go sharply higher.

Each of the states — Massachusetts, Oregon, Nevada and Maryland — embraced Obamacare, and each underperformed. All have come under scathing criticism and now face months of uncertainty as they rush to rebuild their systems or transition to the federal exchange.

The $474 million spent by these four states includes the cost that officials have publicly detailed to date. It climbs further if states like Minnesota and Hawaii, which have suffered similarly dysfunctional exchanges, are added.

Their totals are just a fraction of the $4.698 billion that the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation calculates the federal government has approved for states since 2011 to help them determine whether to create their own exchanges and to assist in doing so.

One aspect the POLITICO piece didn't cover is how many Obamacare enrollees have come at this great cost. Lets start with Oregon, where zero people have been enrolled in the system. Forbes has more:

Indeed, all told, federal taxpayers spent $474 million on just four Exchanges that appear destined for the junk heap: Massachusetts, Oregon, Nevada and Maryland. If other states with similarly dysfunctional exchanges (Minnesota and Hawaii) are included, the total would rise by an additional $360 million. That’s $834 million spent in just a half dozen states that collectively enrolled 270,000 people—in excess of $3,000 per enrollee just to get signed up!

Looking back, it would have been much more efficient to cut the 45 million uninsured in this country a check for health insurance but instead, government bureaucrats decided to overhaul the system in the most inefficient, expensive way possible. When President Obama brags about 8 million "enrollees," of whom just 65 percent have actually paid for their plans, it's important to keep in mind just how much those enrollees cost.

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