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How long are the Obamacare regulations?: 5x the length of the Obamacare statutes

02/29/2012 - 12:38pm

As long as the Obamacare statutes1 are, its implementing regulations are now five times its length. With the publication of two new regulations in the Federal Register on February 27, 2012, we calculate Obamacare regulations to contain 2,163,744 words2 compared to 425,116 words in the Obamacare statutes. That’s a million words longer than the last time we wrote about the length of Obamacare regulations last April.

Past calculations of Obamcare's length focus on the number of pages it contains. But, as any high school or college student can tell you, the number of pages depends on font size, line spacing, and margins. So, some have calculated Obamacare to be over 2,000 pages long. This was true when it was in bill form. But now that it has been signed into law, its statute form is just 961 pages.3

But because Obamacare has the same number of words no matter how you format it, word count is a more accurate way of calculating its length.

Just how long is 2,163,744 words?

The epic novel War and Peace is only 560,000 words long.

Atlas Shrugged weighs in at 645,000 words.

The Obamacare regulations appear to have even eclipsed what Wikipedia considers the longest published novel in either the Latin or Cyrillic alphabets. Artamène, or Cyrus the Great (in French: Artamène ou le Grand Cyrus) is a ten-volume, 13,095 page novel containing 2,100,000+ words.

By our count the King James Version of the Bible contains 830,314 words.4 That makes Obamacare regulations two and a half times as long as the Bible! If you add the text of the Obamacare statutes to its regulations, they are together three times as long as the Bible!

The average reader reads at a rate of 250 to 300 words per minute, but when reading detailed documents such as regulations the rate drops to 200 words per minute.5

At 200 words per minute, the Obamacare Regulations would take 180 hours to read. That’s seven and a half days of non-stop reading; it’s four and a half 40-hour business weeks.

The length of these regulations exemplifies not only the complexities that Obamacare has placed on the medical and insurance communities, but also the need to vigilantly monitor these regulations as they are published. We at ObamacareWatcher.org encourage you to join us as we do just that.


1 Obamacare is made up of two statutes: Public Law 111-148 and Public Law 111-152.
2 This includes 98 documents such as requests for information, advance notices of proposed rulemakings, proposed rules, interim final rules and final rules, and some notices. However, with some exceptions, we excluded guidance and "bulletin" documents that are not subject to the normal notice and comment requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act. We also excluded many regulation documents which were only in part affected by the Obamacare statues.
3 P.L.111-148 is 906 pages and P. L. 111-152 is 55 pages.
4 We calculated the number of words in the King James Bible by using the “Summary” feature of Notepad++ on the ASCII text version of the KJV available at http://printkjv.ifbweb.com/AV_txt.zip. The preface, table of contents, and other introductory remarks were removed before performing the word count.
5 Ziefle, M. (1998), Effects of display resolution on visual performance, Human Factors, 40(4), 555-568.