It’s been about a year since Obamacare’s marketplace launched for the first time. After all of the technical glitches, massive repair efforts and major contractor shake ups, the government has struggled to nail down exactly how much it has spent on the website.
In a federal audit released this week, the Health and Human Services Department Inspector General said obtaining financial information on Healthcare.gov was “difficult and time consuming.” The IG even said that it “could not determine the reliability of most of the amounts” that the agencies had provided.
The Obama administration’s latest estimates say HealthCare.gov and related costs totaled about $834 million. But a new analysis of federal contracts by Bloomberg estimates that the price tag for Obamacare’s federal enrollment system is actually much higher-- around $2.1 billion.\
Bloomberg’s estimate is nearly twice as high as the government’s estimate because it includes spending outside of HHS. Other agencies like the IRS that are playing a huge roll in the Affordable Care Act’s implementation spent $387 million. The government spent another $300 million to process paper applications when enrollees were unable to sign up through the website.
These costs are only for the federal portal and do not include the state exchanges. Though some states that suffered from terrible tech troubles similar to HealthCare.gov have also run up the tab. Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon and Nevada, all of which have largely inoperable websites, have racked up $474 million federal tax dollars so far. Those costs will continue to climb as states repair their websites or switch to the federal exchange, like Oregon and Nevada.
While Bloomberg’s analysis reveals Obamacare has blown its budget it also notes one area where the government has actually spent less than expected —subsidies. By the end of September, the study said the government will have spent about $14.9 billion on subsidies instead of the administration’s estimate of $36.7 billion.
While the government is spending billions to implement Obamacare, CMS officials are quick to point out that the health law is saving some people money.
This week, the Obama administration announced that the Affordable Care Act saved hospitals an estimated $5.7 billion in uncompensated care costs they would have otherwise had to cover this year.
Top Reads from The Fiscal Times: