Fourth Anniversary of Obamacare Brings Billions in Costs to Economy

Report: Law has added $27.2 billion in private sector costs, 159 million paperwork hours

March 24, 2014

Obamacare is adding billions in economic costs and millions of paperwork hours, according to a new report released on Monday.

To mark the anniversary of Obamacare, which became law on March 23, 2010, the American Action Forum released a report finding that the law’s regulatory burdens are twice as great as its benefits.

"After four years of implementation, countless delays, a website disaster, and constant litigation, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) celebrates its inauspicious birthday this week," the report said. "From a regulatory perspective, the law has imposed more than $27.2 billion in total private sector costs, $8 billion in unfunded state burdens, and more than 159 million paperwork hours on local governments and affected entities."

"What’s more troubling, the law has generated just $2.6 billion in annualized benefits, compared to $6.8 billion in annualized costs," it said. "In other words, the ACA has imposed 2.5 times more costs than it has produced in benefits."

Aside from reduced employment, insurance cancellations, and implementation problems in all 50 states, Obamacare’s regulations are very costly to the economy, the report said.

For instance, a rule requiring restaurants to post nutrition information on their menus will cost $757.1 million, and require 622,000 hours in paperwork.

In all, the law requires 159 million paperwork hours, more than twice the amount for Dodd-Frank financial reform, which imposed 60 million hours of paperwork.

"To put the ACA’s paperwork burdens in perspective, it would take 79,518 employees (more than the population of Napa, California) working 2,000 hours annually to complete the ACA’s paperwork mandates," the report said.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) held a scarcely attended anniversary event for the law on Thursday, where she said Obamacare would prove to be a "winner" for Democrats in November.

Sen. John Thune (R., S.D.) said Obamacare would make things difficult for Democrats this election season, saying the law has been a "train wreck."

"Four years after Obamacare became the law of the land, millions of Americans have little but canceled policies, fewer choices, and skyrocketing costs to show for it," he said on Friday. "From seniors, to young adults, to middle-class families, and small businesses, Obamacare has proven to be an equal opportunity offender."

"Despite Democrats’ best efforts to now run from this train wreck they set in motion four years ago, the people living under this law are acutely aware of the harm Obamacare is causing in their lives," Thune said.

The law’s burdens are not likely to lessen, according to the American Action Forum. The report found an increase of $4.5 billion in higher costs and 48 million additional paperwork hours since last year.

"Without significant reforms, expect similar results in 2015," the report said.