ABC7 WATCHDOG

Healthcare.gov estimates higher than advertised

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(WJLA) - Remember Johnnie Wood? He has been trying without success to buy insurance through healthcare.gov for 23 days now. And while the administration rushes to fix the glitches stopping his purchases, this week it added the “Shop Now” feature.

Using Wood’s Spotsylvania County zip code, ABC7 picked out an Anthem health plan. The site asked us to pick an age group – 49 and under or 50 and over. But on Anthem’s site, an insurer will ask for one more crucial piece of information before providing an estimate: a birthdate.

For someone under 49, healthcare.gov estimates that the plan will cost $293 a month – roughly the same as the quote for a 27-year-old at the insurer site.

Meanwhile, a 34-year-old gets an estimate of about $50 more, and for a 44-year-old, the cost jumps to $394, according to the site.

If you’re 50 and older, the difference is staggering.

Healthcare.gov estimates a monthly premium of about $500, roughly what the insurer says a 50-year-old might pay.

And if you’re 61 like Wood, Anthem estimates the cost to be $793 a month.

While healthcare.gov says over and over that actual prices may be lower than what is listed, we were unable to see any warning that they could be higher.

So who is to blame? The White House has been deflecting that very question, and on Tuesday night, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius took a shot at contractors like CGI Federal.

Our watchdog reporting found its contract grew from $55.7 million in 2011 to at least $196 million for designing the website, while CGI will only say that it’s working on fixing the site.

POLITICO'S Senior White House reporter Josh Gerstein says that figuring out who is truly at fault and getting back any of the hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars spent won’t be easy.

“We are looking at a furious round of finger-pointing," he says. "If the government does get any of the money back, it's going to be a long time before they see any of it."

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