By David Morgan
WASHINGTON Aug 5 Forecasts by some U.S. states
that show health insurance costs skyrocketing under Obamacare
are "factually incorrect," Health and Human Services Secretary
Kathleen Sebelius said on Monday.
Sebelius, President Barack Obama's top healthcare adviser,
did not name the states, but said that the administration will
set the record straight on costs for the uninsured in September.
She also criticized conservative groups for trying to
discourage enrollment in the new health insurance exchanges and
lamented that the Obamacare roll-out would not have the kind of
marketing budget available for a new Apple product or
"It's unfortunate that in some instances, I think, erroneous
information is being advanced as if these are the final rates
available in the marketplace and that this is what consumers
will be paying. And that's just not accurate," Sebelius said
during a wide-ranging conference call with reporters.
Predictions that Obama's healthcare reform will be expensive
for consumers could hamper the administration's aim to sign up
as many as 7 million uninsured Americans via state insurance
exchanges for next year.
Several Republican-controlled states including Indiana,
Florida and Georgia have warned in recent weeks of unprecedented
spikes in coverage costs for new plans that will be sold via
online insurance exchanges beginning on Oct. 1.
These states have rejected Obamacare by opting to let the
administration establish a federal marketplace for their
residents rather than build their own. In contrast, states that
have embraced Obama's healthcare reforms have said that new
plans to be sold in their exchanges will save money for
residents when coverage begins next year.
Sebelius said one unnamed state estimated costs by simply
averaging the premiums on all health plans proposed by insurers,
while a second provided little supporting data for its
"The information statements put out at the state level are
just factually incorrect," she said.
The secretary vowed to "clarify once and for all what these
rates are" by releasing complete information in September.
"PRETTY DISMAL EFFORT"
The health insurance reform is under mounting attack from
foes including Republicans in Congress, who have twice denied
HHS hundreds of millions of dollars in new implementation money
this year. Officials in Republican-controlled states have also
sought to restrict actions that might benefit implementation,
while Tea Party and conservative groups are readying campaigns
to discourage enrollment in the exchanges.
"I don't think we're going to spend a lot of time and effort
trying to estimate who they may discourage from getting health
insurance," Sebelius said. "It's a pretty dismal effort under
With congressional funding unavailable, the administration
has scraped together about $1.25 billion to fund the entire
implementation effort this year, including completion of an
information technology backbone for the exchanges, a massive
public education campaign and other activities.
Sebelius said the administration's aim is to wring as much
promotional value as possible from each dollar spent on public
"In spite of the fact that this is a brand new effort and
kind of a brand new marketing target, we won't have the kind of
resources that Apple had when it rolled out their iPhone and
iPad. We'd love to have that. We'd love to have the money that a
movie studio has when they're about to launch a new hit over the
course of several months," she said.
"I'm confident that the resources that we have are going to
be well leveraged and well used and hopefully amplified by lots
of our partners throughout the country."