By Patrick B. McGuigan
OKLAHOMA CITY – A new report details an average cost to taxpayers of $1,095 for each Oklahoma enrollee in the federal insurance marketplace. The report found nationwide spending on the exchanges had reached nearly $7.4 billion as of late March.
In a statement to Oklahoma Watchdog, Oklahoma Commissioner of Insurance John Doak said, “Once again, we are face-to-face with the unacceptable situation that is Obamacare.
Not only are the ACA health care plans expensive and unpopular, but they are also costing Oklahoma taxpayers a staggering amount. “And this report is just talking about the creation of the exchange websites, not the insurance policies themselves, so the burden on taxpayers is actually much higher.”
In related news, Commissioner Doak responded to Oklahoma Watchdog’s recent story on the ObamaCare “payment problem,” (http://www.capitolbeatok.com/reports/obamacare-has-a-payment-problem) focused on the mere 48 percent of federal exchange enrollees in the state who had paid their first month’s premium as of April 15. Former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has said participants are not fully enrolled until paying the first month’s premium in the system.
Doak told Oklahoma Watchdog, “The work done by the House Energy and Commerce Committee confirms our suspicions that the so-called success of Obamacare is nothing more than the same kind of lies the law was built upon. Consumers need the ability to purchase the health insurance that best fits their own lives, not one the federal government has mandated.
“Agents and brokers are the best resource consumers have to buy the right policy at the right price, and the many failures of this federal overreach into this state-regulated industry only serve to emphasize the fact.”
Jay Angoff, the former Commissioner of Insurance in Missouri, wrote the analysis Doak referenced concerning total exchange costs. Drawing on federal enrollment data and exchange spending for both federal and state exchanges, Angoff found the Sooner State had reached 69,221 enrollees (far below the 256,000 federal officials had projected) and that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had spent $75,786,869 on the project in Oklahoma.
The cost of $1,095 per Oklahoma enrollee contrasts with the national average of $922 per exchange enrollee, as detailed in a recent blog posting from the Heritage Foundation (http://blog.heritage.org/2014/05/07/report-obamacare-exchanges-spend-average-922-per-enrollee/), a conservative think tank based in Washington, D.C..
Angoff’s report was prepared for Mehri & Skalet PLLC. It drew on HHS reports promulgated early this month for enrollment data through March 31.
Doak said, “Due to subsidies, marketing and advertising, taxpayer costs will continue to grow, creating further hardships for consumers. As we’ve said before, the solution is state-based regulation that gives consumers options and the freedom to make the choices that best suit their families’ needs.”
Oklahoma is one of 36 states with a federally-facilitated exchange (FFE). Angoff’s report found Oklahoma had the 17th highest cost-per-enrollee among those 36. The District of Columbia and 14 states have state-based exchanges (SBEs) – and the cost-per-enrollee in those states is two-thirds higher than in the FFE states.
Angoff reported thte total spent on all exchanges through March 31 had reached $7.394 billion ($3.869 billion in the SBEs; $3.524 billion in the FFEs).