Tales of Obamacare

David Harsanyi publicizes the erroneous estimates involved in a component of Obamacare that has been implemented:

You’ll…recall that the un-socialized system allowed 20, 30, 40 million (please feel free to come up with any number you’d like; The New York Times won’t care) people to go uninsured. Medicare’s chief actuary estimated that 400,000 would sign up for these high-risk pools before Obamacare kicked in. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the budget would be able to handle 200,000, and others claimed that the program would need eight times the funding to meet demand. This was the driving reason for Obamacare. But as Megan McArdle of The Atlantic points out, just as with the exchanges, folks have been standoffish, with only about 18,000 people signing up.
Victory, right? The success of a government handout is always measured by how little Americans need to use it, right? Well, judging from the food stamp administration’s actions, that would be a big no. What this probably calls out for is more public service announcements or a wider net. Hey, we’ll just get some toffee-nosed yacht jockeys to offset the cost.

Rather than pocket the savings resulting from the overestimation of utilization, HHS has announced that it will increase the subsidy and expand the eligibility for the high-risk pools. In the overall scheme of Obamacare, $5 billion isn’t even walking around money. And the czars of the Obama administration see no need for savings in the budget. Au contraire.
The editors of the Wall Street Journal have been following this story for a while, at least since their November 2010 editorial “The 8,011 person crisis.” (I’m sure the Journal’s Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial board member Joe Rago wrote that editorial.) Megan McArdle, cited by Harsyani, explored the subject most recently in “Why hasn’t anyone signed up for the high-risk insurance pool?” This is all essential reading, but be sure in any event to check out Harsanyi’s column.


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