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The Sneaky Way the Obamacare Website Is Underquoting Insurance Rates (and It Was a Mainstream Media Outlet That Caught It)


"...literally could not believe the government is providing these estimates, which they said were useless and could easily mislead consumers."

(Photo: CBS News)

CBS News on Wednesday published a scathing report on a "serious pricing problem" with that they say actually roots from the much-touted improvements to the beleaguered website.

"The administration announced it would provide a new 'shop and browse' feature Sunday, but it's not giving consumers the real picture," CBS' Jan Crawford said Wednesday morning. "In some cases, people could end up paying nearly double of what they see on the website..."

CBS News

The associated CBS article explains the issue:

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 Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina's website costs $360, more than 50 percent higher. The difference: Blue Cross and Blue Shield 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. [Emphasis added]

Just to make sure you understood that, the "improvement" asks whether you are younger than 49 or older than 50 - not your actual birthday. If you press the former, it assumes you are 27-years-old and gives you the corresponding prices, and if you press the latter, it gives you the prices for a 50-year-old.  Most people in each category will actually be older, however, and their actual prices will be much higher than what they were quoted.

"Industry executives CBS News spoke with literally could not believe the government is providing these estimates, which they said were useless and could easily mislead consumers," Crawford said.

"They also say that the website repeatedly states the actual prices could be lower - but it makes no mention that they could be higher," she added.

Watch the complete report below, via CBS News:

Crawford presented the findings Wednesday on "CBS This Morning." NewsBusters notes that this isn't the first time she has spotlighted the shortcomings of President Barack Obama's signature legislation.

She has already called the website a "complete disaster," and the Obamacare rollout a "complete failure." On Friday, Crawford focused on the widely-acknowledged privacy risks surrounding the system, but adding that "the glitches have, in fact, made the website unusable for most."

You can read the complete CBS report here.


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