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Julianna Rennie
By Julianna Rennie March 29, 2019

Will Trump's border wall cost less than Obamacare website?

As President Donald Trump attempts to go around Congress for border wall funding, a recent Facebook post claimed that the border wall will be cheaper than healthcare.gov, the Obamacare marketplace where Americans can compare and purchase health plans.

"President Trump’s wall costs less than the ObamaCare website — Let that sink in!" reads the text of the post published by a group called Deplorables on March 20.

We decided to do the math and arrived at the opposite conclusion.

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

To compare the price tags, we broke down the costs for the border wall and healthcare.gov.

Border wall’s price tag

During his campaign, Trump priced the border wall at $6-$7 billion. Then he said that it would cost $10-$12 billion. But recent estimates indicate that it will cost more — how much more depends on the design, materials, and distance it will cover.

An internal report from the Department of Homeland Security described the barrier as a series of walls and fences that would cost $21.6 billion.

Republican leadership estimated that the border wall would require $12-$15 billion. Senate Democrats predicted a $70 billion price tag for a border wall and patrolling technology.

Featured Fact-check

In his latest budget, Trump requested $8.6 billion in funding for the border wall in addition to the $12.9 billion that he could collect after declaring a national emergency. However, it’s important to know that these funds aren’t guaranteed.

Obamacare website’s price tag

PolitiFact previously looked into the costs of healthcare.gov, the website set up by the Affordable Care Act.

During a Senate hearing in May 2014, then-Department of Health and Human Services Secretary-designate Sylvia Mathews Burwell said the expenses totaled $834 million.

Our reporting found that the most liberal estimate is $2.1 billion, which came from a Bloomberg Government study that captured expenses beyond the scope of Burwell’s estimate, including $387 million in other agencies’ spending and a $300 million contract to process paper applications.

Why compare these projects?

We tried to find out more about the origins of this comparison. Breitbart published a related, but not identical, article that said annual spending on Obamacare exceeds the highest estimates for the border wall costs.

However, the article used the costs for the entire program, not just its website. It also mentions that the "website alone cost over $2 billion" and links to another Breitbart article on the Bloomberg Government study.

Our ruling

Whatever cost of the border wall that you use — and it is vast, ranging from $12 billion to $70 billion — it far exceeds the cost of setting up the Obamacare website. The highest number we found for healthcare.gov was $2.1 billion.

We rate this statement False.

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"President Trump’s wall costs less than the ObamaCare website."
In a viral image
miércoles, 20 de Marzo de 2019

Our Sources

Facebook post, March 20, 2019

Email interview, Steve Ellis, executive vice president at Taxpayers for Common Sense, March 27, 2019

Email interview, Marc Goldwein, senior vice president and senior policy director for the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, March 27, 2019

PolitiFact, "Would Trump’s border wall cost the same as one and a half U.S. aircraft carriers?," April 28, 2017

Brookings Institution, "The wall: The real costs of a barrier between the United States and Mexico," August 2017

MSNBC, Meet the Press, November 8, 2015

Factbase, "Forum: MSNBC Town Hall With Donald Trump - Charleston, SC," February 17, 2016

Reuters, "Exclusive - Trump border 'wall' to cost $21.6 billion, take 3.5 years to build: internal report," February 9, 2017

CNN, "McConnell: Border wall will cost $12B-$15B," January 26, 2017

Axios, "Billions from military projects could fund Trump's border wall," March 19, 2019

Axios, "House fails to override Trump veto on national emergency," March 26, 2019

Politico, "Trump to seek $8.6 billion to finish border wall before 2020 election," March 9, 2019

PolitiFact, "Donald Trump says the '$5 billion website for Obamacare … never worked. Still doesn't work,'" July 14, 2015

Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, "An Overview of 60 Contracts that Contributed to Development and Operation of the Federal Marketplace," August 2014

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, "Questions Sylvia Mathews Burwell by Sen. Lamar Alexander," May 8, 2014

Bloomberg, "Obamacare Website Costs Exceed $2 Billion, Study Finds," September 24, 2014

The Atlantic, "Obamacare Website Has Cost $840 Million," July 30, 2014

Breitbart, "Cost for a Single Year of ObamaCare Dwarfs Highest Cost Estimates of Border Wall," January 9, 2017

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