Proponents of Obamacare and other aggressive government health care interventions often argue that government health insurance will be less expensive than private health insurance. Ignoring the whole history of government provided services (which you have to do to accept this argument), it is entertaining to press them on what costs will go away.
First, they will argue "profits." Health insurers "obviously" make a lot of profit, so doing away with that will amount to a lot of savings. Several years ago, when Obama was actively demagoguing** the health insurance business, the profit margins of health insurers were all around 3-4% or less. Which means in exchange for eliminating all private profit incentives towards efficiency and productivity, we get a 3% one time cost reduction. Not very promising.
After profits, Obamacare supporters will point to administrative costs. Their philosophy that private insurance administrative costs drive health inflation is built into Obamacare, which places a cap on non-care related costs as a percentage of premiums. I would argue a lot of this cost is claims management and fraud detection that government programs like Medicare don't have, to their detriment, but let's leave that aside. I think most Obamacare opponents are convinced that there are billions in marketing costs that could be eliminated. This has always been their bete noir in pharmaceuticals, that drug companies spend too much marketing.
I have said for years that to a large extent, what outsiders call "marketing" in health insurance is actually customer service and information, in particular agents who go out to companies and help people understand and make their insurance choices.
Well, it turns out that when the shoe is on the other foot, Obamacare supporters suddenly are A-OK with massive health insurance marketing costs, even when what is being marketed is essentially a monopoly:
[California] will also spend $250 million on a two-year marketing campaign [for its health insurance exchange]. By comparison California Senator Barbara Boxer spent $28 million on her 2010 statewide reelection campaign while her challenger spent another $22 million.
The most recent installment of the $910 million in federal money was a $674 million grant. The exchange's executive director noted that was less than the $706 million he had asked for. "The feds reduced the 2014 potential payment for outreach and enrollment by about $30 million," he said. "But we think we have enough resources on hand to do the biggest outreach that I have ever seen." ...
The California Exchange officials also say they need 20,000 part time enrollers to get everybody signed up––paying them $58 for each application. Having that many people out in the market creates quality control issues particularly when these people will be handling personal information like address, birth date, and social security number. California Blue Shield, by comparison has 5,000 employees serving 3.5 million members.
New York is off to a similar start. New York has received two grants totaling $340 million again just to set up an enrollment and eligibility process.
** Don't be fooled by the demagoguery. This is standard Obama practice. In exchange for eating sh*t from Obama in public, private companies get all kinds of crony favors in private. Remember, health insurers got the US government to mandate that everyone in the country buy their products, and got the Feds to establish trillions in subsidies to help people do so. This may be the greatest crony giveaway of all time, and to cover for it, like a magician distracting your eye from the sleight of hand, Obama made it appear in public as if he were health insurers' greatest enemy, rather than their sugar daddy.