HHS to Spend More Money on Benefit Program (Almost) No One Has Signed Up For


The folks at the Department of Health and Human Services appear to have noticed that ObamaCare's high-risk health insurance pools appear to be working roughly like this:

So far, just 18,000 people have signed up for the program. That's rather less than the 375,000 enrollees the administration had predicted would join the new plans, which don't discriminate based on preexisting conditions and are supposed to serve as a bridge program until 2014, when ObamaCare's exchanges and new regulations kick in. From The Wall Street Journal:

The Obama administration moved to make an insurance program for people with existing illnesses cheaper and more accessible for potential enrollees.

The Department of Health and Human Services said it will lower premiums in 18 states where the federal government runs high-risk insurance pools created by the 2010 health overhaul law.

This new action follows the launch of what The Washington Post described as "an aggressive marketing campaign" to promote the program at the beginning of the year. You have to wonder: How good can a government benefit be if the agency administering it has to resort to ever-more-expansive measures in order to entice people into accepting it?

Also: How does the administration plan to pay for the cheaper premiums offered under new rules?

The administration said Tuesday it will tap into the $5 billion the law allotted to run the plan to cut premiums by as much as 40% in the 18 states and also ease eligibility in those states as well as five others and District of Columbia where the federal government administers the plan. 

So the administration says it's paying for these cheaper premiums using the original $5 billion that was allocated for the program. But an administration official who supervises the program told The Los Angeles Times that the department has no estimate of how much the new rules will cost. And it won't say how much of the $5 billion has already been burned through either.

Why won't the administration say how much of the money has already been spent? I suspect the reason may have something to do with the fact that, despite ultra-low enrollment, we've already seen big cost overruns in some states. New Hampshire, for example, burned through twice its allocated $650,000 in federal money by December despite having just 80 enrollees. Now the administration wants to spend even more money to try to prop up the program, and is trying to do so without releasing an estimate of how much the rule changes will cost, or how much money is actually in the pot they want to draw from. 

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  1. The President Who Mounts The World is not daunted by insignificant little cost over runs.

    1. Only 19 months left in the Obama administration. Thank goodness!

  2. 1) 18,000 is not “no one.”
    2) The video is disabled from being embedded.

    1. sure, but it is less than 5% of their projection.

      1. For a magazine called Reason, you’d think they’d be sticklers for categorical logic.

        1. wooooo, drink!

    2. No, but it in a country of over 300,000,000 people, it IS (Almost) no one, as the title states. It’s %0.0006 of the population, which is statistically insignificant.

  3. Just think this high cost doesnt help anyone. It is just insurance in case something happens where than more money is spent. It would be cheaper to just have the state pay the dr bill.

  4. Let’s say we had immortality tech. It requires the equivalent of a year’s output of the Sun for the 1st 10k years of immortality, and every eon the energy cost doubles. At some point, you have to realize that extending your life isn’t worth the price in civilizations and countless lives.

    1. Your life isn’t worth that, of course my life is.

    2. Easy… we’ll travel to other star systems with lifeless planets to gather the energy needed to make me immortal.

      1. Yeah, but it’s immortality. Unless the universe really is infinite and you can break the lightspeed barrier, there’s still a finite supply of stars to fuel that “infinite” lifespan, and you’ll live long enough to use them all eventually.

      2. and how many of those lifeless planets might develop life if their parent stars weren’t consumed?

    3. Fuck entropy.

      1. All I know is, I’m feelin the urge to reread Star Maker.

        1. (and then put together a sequel, Cosmic Cookie Monster.)

  5. Whaddaya mean, “they won’t say” how much of the $5B they’ve spent?! Transparency! How long before a FOIA request is granted?

  6. You left out the most important part:

    Previously, applicants to the pools had to have been denied enrollment by a insurer or offered coverage at twice the price of what a healthy enrollee might pay.

    Without this requirement, this is now the public option.

  7. oh,no,what is going on?

  8. There was no one in that line. So, why’d I do it? Free shit, man! Can’t believe nobody digs free shit anymore. Not the same country my pop said I was contributing to running in the ground. Nope.

    Fuck that gnarly bummer! Free shit!

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