On eve of government shutdown, HHS releases Obamacare numbers

As the United States hurtles toward a government shutdown, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has published its initial estimates for what the different types of coverage will cost consumers when they head to the state-based insurance exchanges. While some may hail this move as a positive sign just ahead the October 1 deadline, the truth of the matter is that the release is light on details and heavy on platitudes.

According to Politico, the HHS data does not include price adjustments for subsidies, which government officials say won't be available to applicants until they actually go online and start entering their information. Additionally, the information only covers the 36 states that have at least partially functioning exchanges. 

The Obama administration settled on a concept involving "bronze," "silver" and "gold" plans, with the first being the cheapest option and the last one constituting the most diverse coverage choice. In some states, the least costly policy will be as cheap as $90 and as high as $400, before the subsidies are calculated. This means that some people may actually receive free coverage as a result. As well, these are only averages and do not reflect negative changers occurring in the national individual insurance market.

At the time of this writing, the Senate is debating a measure that would defund Obamacare while financing the rest of government operations for the fiscal year. While a shutdown is still unlikely, given the extreme political costs of doing so, similar comments were made regarding sequestration earlier this year.

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