Does the White House Know How Many People Have Paid Obamacare Premiums?

Whitehouse.govWhitehouse.govPerhaps the biggest frustration with the administration's Obamacare enrollment reports is that they're not really enrollment reports.

Instead, the reports count the number of people who have "picked a plan." But not all of those people have paid, which means not all of them are truly enrolled in health coverage.

How many haven't paid? That's hard to say. In scattered news reports, several insurers have indicated that about 20 percent of people who signed up didn't pay for the first month. But administration officials say they do not know, and are not systematically collecting that information. 

However, the administration may have access to that information anyway, an unnamed insurance company source tells Politico:

The latest administration figures show that 4.2 million people have selected health plans in the new insurance markets. Insurance industry officials at four of the big national health plans tell POLITICO that about 15 to 20 percent of people who have signed up have not yet paid their first monthly premium — the final step to get coverage.

And they’ve told the White House that, too, insurance industry officials say.

“They have a lot more information than they’re letting on,” one industry source said of the Obama administration. “They have real hard data about the percent that have paid … If they have not processed those yet and compiled the data, that is a choice they are making. But they have that data now.”

Obviously we don't know what insurance company information has or hasn't been shared with federal officials, but it's hard to believe that the administration has not inquired about payment rates or attempted to ascertain what the true enrollment numbers might be. The administration might not be collecting that data, but officials are probably aware of more than they're letting on. 

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Oh, Obamacare was never about the money. It's about pretending health insurance is health care and making that all important first step toward a nationalized health industry.

  • Tim||

    Comrade Obama is always right.

  • Grand Moff Serious Man||

    The healthcare enrollment quota has been decreased increased to 4 million due to overwhelming popularity.

    Parades are being planned across the country to thank Comrade Obama for this happy life.

  • tarran||

    How dare you denigrate Comrade Obama by implying that the spontaneous demonstrations of the people's gratitude were anything but unprompted!

  • sasob||

    No, no. Comrade Obama is always left.

  • Swiss Servator, alles klar?||

    "Does the White House Know How Many People Have Paid Obamacare Premiums?"

    No. Next question.

  • Drake||

    Do they care? Other than the embarrassing stories only Fox will run?

  • ||

    No. Next question.

    It feels so wrong to think of Kathy Sebelius as being tight lipped.

  • PS||

    Yes. They're just too embarrassed to say.

  • Almanian!||

    But administration officials say they do not know, and are not systematically collecting that information.

    That is undoubtedly an abject lie. It is a certainty the Admin knows. They're just playing some kind of game of a) not asking the people in the part of the administration who have that information or b)they know and they're flat lying.

    Come on. Given NSA, there's no way they don't have the data about healthcare payments. They have EVERYTHING else.

    Fuck you, Federal government.

  • Grand Moff Serious Man||

    This is an interseting case of government ineptitude meeting government malfeasance.

    They have every incentive not to release that information but at the sane time the Obama Administrstion is so jaw-droppingly incompetent that they might very well have overlooked this.

  • ||

    "Never attribute to malice that which can be attributed to jaw-dropping incompetence and malice."

  • Brett L||

    Right. The important thing is to never assume competence.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Someone in the Government has that data. The question is, does Sibby? Probably not, because it's doubtful she understands enough to know who to ask.

  • LynchPin1477||

    I am sure she knows how to find out, or at least knows who to order to find out.

    Would it surprise anyone if key people in HHS were told to simply not relay unpleasant information up the chain of command?

  • UnCivilServant||

    It's never an explicit order. Appointed toadies know this implicitly.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Hold on. I thought HHS was inept? Now you're saying they are omniscient.

    Which is it?

  • OneOut||

    Yes.

  • Brandon||

    Omniscient? This is fairly basic information, shrike. They are inept and corrupt.

  • Pulseguy||

    They're inept, they're corrupt, but they do collect data in copious amounts. They don't know what to do with what, or what decision to make once they have it. But, they do collect data.

    Nobody even remotely suggested they were omniscient.

    It sure would be nice if you ever actually argued a point. But....I guess that'll never happen. That takes some brains.

  • montana mike||

    Who is paying you, they are wasting their money if that is the case. We sniffed you out a long time ago asshat.

  • Carolynp||

    Look, when I did underwriting for two different enormous insurers at the very beginning of the computer age a million years ago, I could tell you not only when a customer paid, I could tell you when we received the envelope and the name of the clerk who opened it. They have the data, just that simple.

  • ImanAzol||

    Yes, but that was the corporate sellout world.

    Or as we call them: "Professionals."

  • ||

    I don't think the White House knows its ass from a hole in the ground.

  • UnCivilServant||

    We'll have to ask the Committee on Rectal Tracking and Identification.

  • sasob||

    That depends on whether the hole in the ground has a privy sitting over it - 'cuz if it does, then it would be really difficult.

  • Tman||

    Does anyone honestly believe that if the government had data supporting the evidence that over 4 million people had signed up, enrolled and paid their premiums that they would NOT be shouting it from the rooftops?

    This whole charade is just ridiculous. Sebelius needs to be fired. Lawsuits need to be filed on behalf of taxpayers in individual states where hundreds of millions of dollars were spent on websites that were inoperable, and SCOTUS needs to revisit their decision concerning whether or not this is a "TAX" since the White House refuses to enforce any part of this law whatsoever.

  • Adam330||

    Even if they didn't have it now, they could quite easily require the insurers to give it to them.

  • Carolynp||

    They just told us they aren't keeping track of how many uninsured are moving into the insured category. Clearly, what they find important is a somewhat grey area...

  • dalewalt||

    The insurers definitely have that information... I work in the Direct Billing department of a large health insurer... yes, we know exactly how many people have signed up, their demographics, and their payment (or non-payment) history.

    I have no idea if we've provided that info to the gummint, but it *is* available.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    True, but how late do they let the first payment get before cancellation? 30 days? 60 days? 90 days? (talking about the new policies here)

    You have to have access to the cash application/billing system for each private insurer. No way in hell does HHS have that data.

  • dalewalt||

    Yes, there is a grace period before cancellation. But no, the govt doesn't need access to anything; all they need to do is make the request to the healthcare insurer.

    Info like this is already being reported to the insurers' mgmt, providing that same info to HHS would be a matter of sending an excel sheet.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Actually, it tends to be in the form of a flat file with fixed length records. Judging entirely from the data we (my agency) get from insurers to feed our system. And that includes who has paid among the billable populace. HHS has the data somewhere.

  • Brandon||

    Why would there be a grace period before cancelling if you haven't received the first payment? Why wouldn't coverage start after the payment is received?

  • OneOut||

    The Administration "asked" the insurance companies to afford a 10 day grace period once it became public that the web site didn't work.

  • Sevo||

    Palin's Buttplug|3.13.14 @ 1:44PM|#
    "True, but how late do they let the first payment get before cancellation?"

    Paid up is paid up, period.
    I'm tired of your excuses for that lying bastard in the white house.
    Go fuck your daddy.

  • tarran||

    I'm tired of your excuses for that lying bastard in the white house.

    You aren't tired of it's excuses! I know this, because you keep asking it to make them!!!!!!

    Being non-sentient it is randomly spewing snippets of text hoping to elicit a response, and tuning its neural net spew snippets that get a greater reaction.

    When you say "Go fuck your daddy," it as if you are saying to it "I have cake for you".

    Every time you interact with it, you encourage it to spew more of the sequences of characters that initiated the interaction.

    If it bothers you as much as you claim it does, you should not be training it by interacting with it.

    As RC Dean if fond of pointing out, you get more of what you reward!

  • Brandon||

    I am amused by the increasing desperation and absurdity of its excuses.

  • tarran||

    I am amused by the increasing desperation and absurdity of its excuses.

    If random strings spouted by a non-sentient automaton amuses you, then you should find this site hilarious and good for hours of entertainment.

  • sasob||

    That's a clever little gizmo - which actually seems more intelligent. :-)

  • Sevo||

    "If it bothers you as much as you claim it does, you should not be training it by interacting with it."

    Whatever that is, it's NOT interaction.

  • uhclem||

    It knows where the cakes goes.

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    Sevo,

    I always appreciate your kind and cheerful responses to people. Keep up the great posts. You are a real genius with words. Have a wonderful day.

    Cordially,

    Mandalay

  • Sevo||

    Road guy,
    You are the archetype of a passive aggressive personality.
    Not quite as honest as the lying bastard in the WH.
    Get lost.

  • OneOut||

    You have 10 days to make your first payment from the anticipated start of coverage. After the first payment is made and coverage is offical you have 90 days without a payment before cancellation.

    For the first 30 day period after non payment the insurance company is responsible for payment to the provider. From the 31st day to the 90th day after non payment the health care provider is required by law to provide but the insurance company isn't required to reimburse the provider so the healthcare providers are on the hook for the costs.

  • The Last American Hero||

    Nonsense. HHS could require the insurers in the exchange to provide weekly updates with total new enrollments (selected not paid), renewals, cancellations and paid policies. They know and they are lying. If the numbers were favorable, they would be heralding its success rate. It is an election year.
    Since they've said they don't collect the data, then the next reporter to shove a mic in front of Chocolate Nixon should be asking why the Administration doesn't consider it important to know how many people have paid and completed enrollment in Obamacare. Also ask how they hell they know the program works if they don't know how many people enrolled.

  • Swiss Servator, alles klar?||

    Ha! You are asking a reporter to commit and act of journalism.

  • dalewalt||

    UCS, true, it'd be a flat file. I'm not sure if HHS is actively gathering payment data; if they are, they'll have specified a flat file format.

    Brandon, coverage does start after the first payment is received, but they're not cancelled until after the grace period.

  • Adam330||

    HHS could require a report if it wanted to. It doesn't need direct access to the data.

  • LynchPin1477||

    There is no other word for this other than cowardice. Rather than have someone step and show true leadership, hell, even fake leadership, the administration chooses to be willfully ignorant of any bad news. Normally I would assume they have the numbers and are just lying about it for political cover, but based on the utter lack of leadership surrounding Obamacare so far, I think it is actually more likely that they are choosing not to look. Rather than face the problems with the law and take some responsibility for the screw ups, they are content to let it limp along as long as it doesn't mean facing any unpleasant realities.

    Democrats are fond of accusing Republicans of not offering any alternatives, but here is the thing -- Democrats aren't offering alternatives to a clearly broken law either. Repeal is actually an alternative. Instead, Democrats just want to ignore the problems and hope they go away.

    Either that, or the information gathering system is still mind-boggling screwed up. I guess we can't rule out even higher levels of incompetence that we have seen so far.

  • sasob||

    they are content to let it limp along as long as it doesn't mean facing any unpleasant realities.

    There are no unpleasant realities as far as they are concerned. They got the damned law passed, and it's unlikely that it will ever be completely repealed or otherwise done away with. That's all they really care about.

  • James Taggart||

    Obamacare is a success. Now move along. It's not really your concern.

  • Sevo||

    So long as Obo continues to redefine 'success' and slimy turds like shreek scream about how wonderful it is, it's a 'success'.
    Kinda like when you only fall neck-deep into the cess pool.

  • Brandon||

    This is how Obo defines success:

    http://money.msn.com/business-.....d=17432453

    US embracing Obamacare

  • montana mike||

    in a world of epic stupid, this deserves an award, lmao

  • Sevo||

    If the WH doesn't, it's because they choose not to know.
    That data is available, period. The companies know; every company I've ever worked for knew who was paid up and who wasn't.

  • Mokers||

    It's amazing how the President chooses when to use Executive action. Change overtime rules? No problem. Find out how many people have actually paid for his signature bill? Suddenly they are powerless. Where do they draw the line? Oh yeah, FYTW.

  • Carolynp||

    Exactly.

  • creech||

    Such info is only being withheld until the "spin" can be tweaked properly. Then it will be, "See the subsidies are inadequate; there are 25% who want medical insurance who found they couldn't afford it when they saw the premium. We need to increase the subsidies because the childrunz, the poor, the victims of the monocle-wearing Koch brothers, etc. etc."

  • OneOut||

    This wins the thread.

  • Raven Nation||

    Does the White House Know How Many People Have Paid Obamacare Premiums? anything of value?

    FIFY

  • XM||

    The 20 percent who didn't pay still gets healthcare for about a month because of the grace period, right?

  • Michael Hihn||

    I'd guess it could be a LOT higher than 15-20% unpaid. This MAY have changed, but one early complaint was that you couldn't see the amount of the subsidy and your net premium until the very end.

    1) How many people went through the enrollment process, saw the premium and just walked away?

    2)How many people went through the process just to see how bad it really is. (like I did, a web designer but on Medicare)

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement