WEDNESDAY, May 7, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A significant
majority of Americans who signed up for health insurance under the
Affordable Care Act have completed the final step of enrollment by
paying their first month's premium, insurers will tell a
Congressional committee on Wednesday.
In written testimony, several of the nation's largest insurance
companies said many people are successfully paying their premiums,
with payment rates running between 70 percent and 90 percent,
depending on the company and the state. Consumers who bought
policies with later effective dates may not have paid yet because
they haven't received a bill, the insurers said.
The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and
Investigations will hear from several members of the insurance
industry during a hearing on the Affordable Care Act's marketplaces
The Affordable Care Act is the controversial 2010 legislation
that requires most Americans to have health insurance or pay a fine
in the form of a tax penalty. Considered President Barack Obama's
most visible domestic achievement, it is intended to bring
insurance coverage to an estimated 30 million Americans with no
coverage. It is also widely unpopular with Republican
Mark Pratt, senior vice president of state affairs at America's
Health Insurance Plans, a Washington, D.C.-based insurance industry
group, said there's still some uncertainty surrounding paid
Some insurers "voluntarily decided to provide flexibility in the
deadline by which exchange enrollees must pay their first month's
premium," Pratt said in written testimony. In some cases, enrollees
created duplicative accounts or decided to terminate their online
enrollments, adding to the difficulty of calculating accurate
enrollment numbers and payment rates, he said.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently
reported that 8 million Americans had signed up for health
insurance on the federal and state online marketplaces during the
2014 open enrollment period.
The marketplaces, or exchanges, were created to help consumers
enroll in private health plans offered under the Affordable Care
Act, or Obamacare, as some people know it.
The Obama administration has not been able to say how many
health-plan enrollments are paid up.
Last week, the Republican-led House Energy and Commerce
Committee reported data suggesting that only two-thirds of people
who signed up through the federal HealthCare.gov website had paid
their premiums as of April 15. The committee has since asked
insurers to provide an update on paid enrollments as of May 20.
Because paid enrollments are constantly changing "it may be a
matter of months before system-wide numbers on premium payments are
available," Pratt said.
At Aetna Inc., the payment rate "has been in the low- to mid- 80
percent range," said Paul Wingle, executive director of the
individual business and public exchange operations and strategy.
Aetna participates in insurance marketplaces in 17 states.
WellPoint Inc., which offers health plans in eight states
through HealthCare.gov and several state-based exchanges, has seen
premium payment rates as high as 90 percent, depending on the
state, said Dennis Matheis, president of WellPoint's central region
and exchange strategy. For all applicants, the payment rate is
roughly 70 percent, he said.
Health Care Service Corp. (HCSC), which operates Blue Cross and
Blue Shield plans in five states, reported payment rates in the
mid- to high-80 percent range for policies with effective dates
starting between Jan. 1 and April 1, 2014.
Darren Rodgers, HCSC's senior vice president and chief marketing
officer, explained that "applicants with policies with an effective
date of May 1 may still have time remaining in the payment
deadline." Only 68 percent of those policies have been paid, he
Brian Evanko, president of the U.S. individual segment at Cigna
Corp., did not disclose specific payment rates in his written
testimony. The company offers marketplace plans in just five
states, four of which use the HealthCare.gov website.
Cigna entered the exchanges "on a focused basis in 2014," in
part, "to gather deeper learning about consumer behaviors in the
individual market," he said.
The first open enrollment period for insurance coverage under
Obamacare ended March 31, with some consumers getting extra time to
complete their enrollments.
Most Americans won't have another chance to sign up for coverage
through the exchanges until the next open enrollment period, which
begins Nov. 15. Coverage purchased during that time won't take
effect until 2015.
Learn more about the health-care marketplaces at
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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