File this one under “things only lefties would be surprised at”:
Medical costs for enrollees in the health-care law’s high-risk insurance pools are expected to more than double initial predictions, the Obama administration said Thursday in a report on the new program.
The health-care law set aside $5 billion for a Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, meant to provide health insurance to those who had been declined coverage by private carriers. Since its launch last summer, nearly 50,000 Americans have enrolled in the program.
Those who have enrolled in the program are projected to have significantly higher medical costs than the government initially expected. Each participant is expected to average $28,994 in medical costs in 2012, according to the report, more than double what government-contracted actuaries predicted in November 2010. Then, the analysts expected that the program would cost $13,026 per enrollee.
The costs also are significantly higher than those of similar high-risk pools that many states have operated for decades. States spent an average of $12,471 on enrollees in 2008, according to the National Association of State Comprehensive Health Insurance Plans.
It’s an open question exactly why it’s running over projection, but I’d suspect that they deliberately low-balled the projections in order to get it passed, the people running the program are simply incompetent, the normal bloat associated with government programs, or some combination of the three. My personal vote is for the combination.
If there’s one thing to take away from this story, it’s that government programs always cost more than the rosy projections the politicians proclaim when they’re trying to get the votes for it. I honestly can’t think of a single federal government program that has come in under budget.
Of course, trusting politicians in the first place is usually a bad idea, especially trusting them with money. As P. J. O’Rourke said many years ago, “Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.”