Is it just because the The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services is still negotiating the prices with insurers as they flail to set up all of the necessary insurance exchanges?
Or might it be because the price shock is going to be so significant that, politically, it would be unwise to mention?
Or maybe, despite the higher price, coverage won't be so keen after all?
From the Chicago Tribune this morning:
It could be that HHS is keeping a lid on rates because it wants to avoid a California-like debacle.
Last month, California officials crowed that health insurance premiums would fall in their Obamacare exchange. "This is a home run for consumers in every region of California," said the exchange's executive director.
But California officials were off base, according to economists who scrutinized the figures.
Some insurers reportedly controlled costs by cutting out the most expensive hospitals and doctors from their networks and by boosting patients' out-of-pocket payments. "The premiums for the policies that will be offered ... are much higher than analogous plans being sold today," Daniel Kessler, a professor of business and law at Stanford University, wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.
Bottom line: The cost of health insurance in California and the rest of the country will spike for many people, especially the young. At the same time, millions of Americans will be pushed into fledgling, sure-to-be-glitchy exchanges to buy that insurance.
With roughly 100 days before the Oct. 1 opening of exchanges nationwide, federal and state officials have blown deadlines and remain tangled in regulatory confusion, according to twin reports last week from the Government Accountability Office.
Many states running their own small-business exchanges, for example, hadn't finished nearly half the tasks that were supposed to have been done by the end of March, the GAO said. Some states have scaled back offerings to meet the deadline. Others have abandoned the idea of running their own markets and ceded control to the feds.
"Whether (the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services') contingency planning will assure the timely and smooth implementation of the exchanges by October 2013 cannot yet be determined," the GAO noted in a rousing vote of no confidence.
The states are scrambling to install a complex system that relies on computers to share data with the Internal Revenue Service, state tax offices, Medicaid, Medicare and other agencies in order to verify customer information. A consultant for Utah's exchange told The Wall Street Journal: "Something will be up and running on Oct. 1. It will be full of issues, bugs and technological challenges." Ack.
The states also need to train tens of thousands of customer service agents to help customers navigate the exchanges. A massive public outreach campaign looms.
Maybe the real reason that politicians are so wary about revealing real insurance costs to America's populace until the last minute is because the curtain of health care costs will rise, in plain dollars and cents, to their electorate.
Suddenly, American's will see that "health care for all" doesn't mean "health care for free." Suddenly, "affordable health care" might not seem so "affordable" after all. Then they'll realize that this law is the most expensive, unread law to ever be imposed on each of us. And that's before the IRS gets involved in making sure we pay for it.
No wonder they're so quiet about costs.