Still no Obamacare transparency

I noted on Monday that two major contributing factors to Healthcare.gov’s failure came not from typical government incompetence, but from the Obama administration’s own political malfeasance: (1) They kept systems integration in-house so Republicans couldn’t find out how things were going, and (2) they didn’t want users to find out the actual price of health insurance. In light of that, these stories seem interesting:

The Obama administration has decided to brief Congress on Obamacare’s implementation woes, but only Democrats are invited:

On Wednesday, the administration also sent Mike Hash, who runs the health reform office at Health and Human Services, to Capitol Hill to brief lawmakers on the law’s implementation.

Only Democrats were invited to that session, prompting protest from House Speaker John Boehner, whose spokesman called it a “snub” and said the administration should brief House Republicans, too.

Then there’s this:

The problems haven’t yet been resolved, but people familiar with the situation said officials are debating whether to replace parts of the registration system this weekend. By Thursday morning, a new tool that allows users to preview plans without registering appeared on the site with little fanfare.

This would allow people to see health insurance prices without giving personal information (thereby loading the system), and consequently would allow people to see the actual prices without a subsidy applied. This would seem to go against the administration’s goals for the system. But in fact:

CBS News has uncovered a serious pricing problem with HealthCare.gov. It stems from the Obama administration’s efforts to improve its health care website. A new online feature can dramatically underestimate the cost of insurance.

The administration announced it would provide a new “shop and browse” feature Sunday, but it’s not giving consumers the real picture. In some cases, people could end up paying double of what they see on the website. . .

Every single page of the new feature warns people that they might be able to get a subsidy, with a big blue box that is often larger than everything else on the page. But even with that, it seems they still don’t want people to know the actual cost.

(Previous post.)

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