CBS: "dramatically underestimates costs" in new estimate feature

Well, the good news is that HHS has actually tried to fix a few things on the website.  The bad news is that the fixes make the confusion and incompetence even worse.  After hearing a hailstorm of criticism over the necessity to completely enroll before seeing premium prices, HHS added a premium estimator on the front page of the website.  However, unless you are exactly 27 or 50 years old, the estimates you get will wildly undershoot what you’ll be forced to pay.

CBS reports that industry analysts can’t believe what they are seeing:

As President Obama promises to fix, his administration is touting what it calls “improvements” in design, specifically a feature that allows you to “See Plans Now.” White House press secretary Jay Carney has said, “Americans across the country can type in their zip code and shop and browse.”

Industry analysts, such as Jonathan Wu, point to how the website lumps people only into two broad categories: “49 or under” and “50 or older.”

Wu said it’s “incredibly misleading for people that are trying to get a sense of what they’re paying.”

Prices for everyone in the 49-or-under group are based on what a 27-year-old would pay. In the 50-or-older group, prices are based on what a 50-year-old would pay.

CBS News ran the numbers for a 48-year-old in Charlotte, N.C., ineligible for subsidies. According to, she would pay $231 a month, but the actual plan on BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina’s website costs $360, more than a 50 percent increase. The difference: BlueCross BlueShield requests your birthday before providing more accurate estimates.

The numbers for older Americans are even more striking. A 62-year-old in Charlotte looking for the same basic plan would get a price estimate on the government website of $394. The actual price is $634.

What part of “trust us to fix what we couldn’t deliver correctly in the first place” do industry analysts not understand?

Update: “49 or 50” should have been “27 or 50.” I’ve fixed it above; thanks to CBRecluse on Twitter for the correction.