15-20 Percent Aren’t Paying Obamacare Premiums, Insurer Says

New data from a major insurer suggest real enrollment is at roughly 6 million.

PASADENA, CA - NOVEMBER 19: A healthcare reform specialist helps people select insurance plans at the free Affordable Care Act (ACA) Enrollment Fair at Pasadena City College on November 19, 2013 in Pasadena, California. The event, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and the Los Angeles Association of Health Underwriters, offers one-on-one sessions with insurance experts certified by Covered California to help people enroll for healthcare coverage under the ACA. 
National Journal
Sam Baker
April 2, 2014, 10:10 a.m.

One of the biggest play­ers in Obama­care’s ex­changes says 15 to 20 per­cent of its new cus­tom­ers aren’t pay­ing their first premi­um — which means they’re not ac­tu­ally covered.

The latest data come from the Blue Cross Blue Shield As­so­ci­ation, whose mem­bers — known col­lect­ively as “Blues” plans — are par­ti­cip­at­ing in the ex­changes in al­most every state. Roughly 80 to 85 per­cent of people who se­lec­ted a Blues plan through the ex­changes went on to pay their first month’s premi­um, a BCBSA spokes­wo­man said Wed­nes­day.

The new stat­ist­ics, par­tic­u­larly from such a large car­ri­er, help define how many people are ac­tu­ally get­ting covered un­der the Af­ford­able Care Act.

The Blues’ ex­per­i­ence is in line with an­ec­dot­al es­tim­ates from oth­er in­sur­ance ex­ec­ut­ives, who in­dic­ated earli­er in the en­roll­ment pro­cess that they re­ceived pay­ments from about 80 per­cent of people who se­lec­ted their plans.

The Blues’ latest es­tim­ate in­cludes policies that took ef­fect Feb. 1 or earli­er, the spokes­wo­man said.

Some health care ana­lysts have sug­ges­ted that the pay­ment rate could im­prove later in the en­roll­ment win­dow, as plans had more time to track down con­sumers who hadn’t paid.

Wherever the fi­nal num­ber ends up, it will be the real meas­ure of how many people are ac­tu­ally covered through the Af­ford­able Care Act’s ex­changes. The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has been re­leas­ing the num­ber of people who se­lec­ted a plan, but says it doesn’t have ac­cur­ate data on how many have ac­tu­ally paid. And con­sumers don’t have cov­er­age they can use un­til they make that first pay­ment.

If the na­tion­wide pay­ment rate, across all car­ri­ers, re­mains at 80 to 85 per­cent, the 7.1 mil­lion sign-ups Obama an­nounced Tues­day would trans­late in­to some­where between 5.7 and 6 mil­lion people who are ac­tu­ally covered.

{{ BIZOBJ (video: 4856) }}

What We're Following See More »
In Dropout Speech, Santorum Endorses Rubio
1 days ago

As expected after earlier reports on Wednesday, Rick Santorum ended his presidential bid. But less expected: he threw his support to Marco Rubio. After noting he spoke with Rubio the day before for an hour, he said, “Someone who has a real understanding of the threat of ISIS, real understanding of the threat of fundamentalist Islam, and has experience, one of the things I wanted was someone who has experience in this area, and that’s why we decided to support Marco Rubio.” It doesn’t figure to help Rubio much in New Hampshire, but the Santorum nod could pay dividends down the road in southern states.

Rubio, Trump Question Obama’s Mosque Visit
1 days ago

President Obama’s decision to visit a mosque in Baltimore today was never going to be completely uncontroversial. And Donald Trump and Marco Rubio proved it. “Maybe he feels comfortable there,” Trump told interviewer Greta van Susteren on Fox News. “There are a lot of places he can go, and he chose a mosque.” And in New Hampshire, Rubio said of Obama, “Always pitting people against each other. Always. Look at today – he gave a speech at a mosque. Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims.”

Cruz Must Max Out on Evangelical Support through Early March
1 days ago

For Ted Cruz, a strong showing in New Hampshire would be nice, but not necessary. That’s because evangelical voters only make up 21% of the Granite State’s population. “But from the February 20 South Carolina primary through March 15, there are nine states (South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Carolina) with an estimated white-Evangelical percentage of the GOP electorate over 60 percent, and another four (Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Missouri) that come in over 50 percent.” But after that, he better be in the catbird’s seat, because only four smaller states remain with evangelical voter majorities.

Rubio Now Winning the ‘Endorsement Primary’
1 days ago

Since his strong third-place finish in Iowa, Marco Rubio has won endorsement by two sitting senators and two congressmen, putting him in the lead for the first time of FiveThirtyEight‘s Endorsement Tracker. “Some politicians had put early support behind Jeb Bush — he had led [their] list since August — but since January the only new endorsement he has received was from former presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham.” Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that fueled by resentment, “members of the Bush and Christie campaigns have communicated about their mutual desire to halt … Rubio’s rise in the polls.”

Sanders: Obama Is a Progressive
21 hours ago

“Do I think President Obama is a progressive? Yeah, I do,” said Bernie Sanders, in response to a direct question in tonight’s debate. “I think they’ve done a great job.” But Hillary Clinton wasn’t content to sit out the latest chapter in the great debate over the definition of progressivism. “In your definition, with you being the gatekeeper of progressivism, I don’t think anyone else fits that definition,” she told Sanders.