Obamacare

Insurers Say 20 Percent of Obamacare Sign Ups Haven't Paid Yet

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Whitehouse.gov

There's an awful lot we still don't know about Obamacare.

For example, the federal government can't yet say what percentage of the 3.3 million people who have signed up for coverage through Obamacare have paid their first month's premium. Eventually, the government may be able to track that information directly, but it can't right now because payment processing is among the back-end computer systems that have not been built yet. 

What that means is that we don't know how many of those 3.3 million sign-ups are actually enrolled in insurance—and how many remain uninsured. But the total is almost certainly quite a bit smaller than the administration's sign-up figure.

The New York Times reports that roughly 20 percent of sign-ups haven't paid:

Lindy Wagner, a spokeswoman for Blue Shield of California, said that 80 percent of those who signed up for its plans had paid by the due date, Jan. 15. Blue Shield has about 30 percent of the exchange market in the state.

Matthew N. Wiggin, a spokesman for Aetna, said that about 70 percent of people who signed up for its health plans paid their premiums. For Aetna policies taking effect on Jan. 1, the deadline for payment was Jan. 14, and for products sold by Coventry Health Care, which is now part of Aetna, the deadline was Jan. 17.

Mark T. Bertolini, the chief executive of Aetna, said last week that the company had 135,000 "paid members," out of 200,000 who began to enroll through the exchanges. "I think people are enrolling in multiple places," he said in a conference call. "They are shopping. And what happens is that they never really get back on HealthCare.gov to disenroll from plans they prior enrolled in."

Kristin E. Binns, a vice president of WellPoint, said that 76 percent of people selecting its health plans on an exchange had paid their share of the first month's premium by the due date of Jan. 31. 

Obviously this isn't a complete picture. But it's worth noting that this isn't the only report to suggest a non-payment rate of about 20 percent. At the end of January, CNN Money also reported a likely attrition rate of 20 percent. And insurance industry consultant Robert Laszewski has also estimated that non-payment will likely end up in that range. 

If that's the case, then the true number of enrollments is closer to 2.64 million—well below the administration's target for this point in the open enrollment period. Based on early state data, it's even possible that the final rate of non-payment will be higher: As Jed Graham of Investor's Business Daily recently noted, Washington state's payment rate is only about 50 percent, and Nevada's is just 66 percent. I'd bet that these percentages rise. But even still, it's clear that follow-through on sign-ups has not been particularly robust. 

We also don't know how many of the people who have enrolled were previously uninsured, and how many were already covered but are switching to exchange-based coverage. But there are some signs that the percentage of people now getting coverage who did not have it below could be quite low.

Laszewski, a well-connected health insurance consultant, told CBS News that the percentage of sign-ups who are newly insured could be in the range of 10 percent:

[Laszewski] says that to calculate a more accurate number, one must subtract about 20 percent of the enrollees because they haven't paid (and so aren't technically insured); as well as about two-thirds of the enrollees because they were already insured prior to signing up for Obamacare.

"Looking at the total of 3.3 million, netting out the non-pays, and listening to the anecdotal carrier reports, it doesn't look like we have more than a fraction–certainly something less than 10%– of the previously uninsured," said Laszewski.

Again, we can't be certain here. But Laszewski's estimate tracks with other reports and information we've seen. A survey by the McKinsey Center for U.S. Health reform found that only 11 percent of those buying insurance on the exchanges were uninsured. Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini told CNBC that his company's plans had failed to attract the previously uninsured.

It may be a while before a more accurate picture of how the law affected enrollment emerges. But for now, one thing we can be fairly sure of is that the headline sign-up numbers don't tell the whole story. 

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    1. +1 obscure Star Trek reference

  1. My expectation is that the people who want the overpriced crappy insurance being offered on the exchanges and who know can afford to pay the prices for it will be quicker to sign up than the people who want the overpriced crappy insurance who fear that they can’t afford it.

    Thus the deeper into the year we, the lower the rate that people who sign up will make their first premium payments is. Furthermore, there will always be people who pay for a few months and then something happens and they stop.

    I think the next few months are going to look worse than this month.

    1. About 80 percent of the folks who bought policies on the exchange so far were eligible for subsidies.

      http://www.bloomberg.com/news/…..=yhoo.view

      1. They’ll keep making it easier to get subsidies just like they keep making it easier to get student loans, with the same results in the cost of college/insurance.

    2. Yes. And chances are those people had insurance to begin with.

      It is only going to get worse. And don’t forget a ton of people don’t have insurance but think they do. Wait until they get assessed with the penaltax. Won’t that be great.

      1. Obama will just waive it until after the elections.

      2. Me and another attorney at work were bitching about how bad our coverage has gotten–the insurer is denying stuff left and right, the deductibles have doubled, and the premiums are substantially higher. And everyone knows exactly what to blame.

        I’m actually stunned that the Democrats in Congress aren’t fleeing from this law, just out of a political survival instinct.

        1. Me and another attorney at work were bitching about how bad our coverage has gotten–the insurer is denying stuff left and right, the deductibles have doubled, and the premiums are substantially higher. And everyone knows exactly what to blame.

          Don’t worry, the go-to of “Republican obstructionism” seems quite lively yet from what I can see.

          I hope it’s merely a delusion of personal perspective, but then I remember this country reelected Obama.

          1. I hope it’s merely a delusion of personal perspective, but then I remember this country reelected Obama.

            But that’s only because Romney was such a radical extremist.

            Oh, right.

            1. What bothers me about that is that our threshold for tossing people out because of a weak economic situation seems to have increased–it has to get even shittier, apparently.

              1. It will get shittier, and they still won’t toss people out.

              2. Even in a weak economy, there has to be a good opposing candidate. Romney just wasn’t it.

              3. … you mean Congress, with ‘approval ratings’ barely into double-digits, but with well over 90% re-election stats?

                It’s not an economic issue, it’s a voters’ IQ issue!

  2. I’m one of these people. I never had any intentions of paying though, I just wanted to find out how hard I would be fucked.

  3. EXTEND THE DEADLINE. I COMMAND THEE.

    1. Because it seems that the president can simply make law by royal decree. I mean, who’s going to stop him?

    2. An it please yer Majesty, we have nailed the decree up on the town walls.

  4. I’m starting to think this may be the greatest government bureaucratic fuckup of all time. So far, we seem on track for that. It’s highly amusing.

    1. But remember, this was going to be so successful that it would ensure the Democrats a ruling majority for generations. Remember all that? It is going to get popular like Social Security and be a third rail of politics. Heh.

      1. John,

        I think they continue to believe that, but not in the way implied by their public pronouncements.

        The system is hoovering up email addresses and demographic data on every low income person in the United States.

        I am increasingly of the opinion that the slapdash functioning of the “marketplace” and the constant waivers and delays are the product of an administration that doesn’t care about the law producing its stated result.

        Rather, I think they see it as a success in that it’s giving them much more data to stuff in their databases.

        1. That may be their post hoc strategy. But that is not how they planned it to work. They are absolutely shocked by this and pretty much in a panic. This is not going as planned.

      2. I’m trying to think of another (supposedly) well-intentioned plan from the government that fucked up this badly this quickly, and I can’t. Can you?

          1. Nixon wage and price controls – the effects were evident in a matter of months, and led to a decade of inflation.

            Carter oil regulation – higher prices and gas lines in a matter of months.

        1. The attempted hostage rescue during Carter’s term?

          1. Ruined my Saturday cartoons with news breaks. Damn Carter’s sense of timing.

            1. Recall Cyrus Vance wanting to send the grunts in with non-lethal weapons, holy shit, what all around dysfunction that administration was.

              1. I think it was Warren Christopher.

                In the words of Colonel Charles A. Beckwith, leader of the operation, “it was our aim to kill all Iranian guards, we were not going in there to arrest them; we were going to shoot them right between the eyes, and to do it with vigor”

                As Beckwith is briefing the NSC, Christopher expresses his horror that Delta plans on actually killing the hostage takers, and he asks Beckwith why don’t they shoot them in the shoulder instead.

        2. Social Security was fucked up pretty quickly. It was only a matter of months before the insolvency was obvious and the pay-in taxation rate has to be increased. The increases came fast and furious for the first 20 years.

          And yet ACA is a much bigger fuckup. The only people that still support the idea are fugitives from mental hospitals like shriek and Tony.

        3. Destroying food during the depression?

          1. Ooooohh good one!

        4. I’m trying to think of another (supposedly) well-intentioned plan from the government that fucked up this badly this quickly, and I can’t. Can you?

          What are the units for ‘rate of fuck up’?

          IMO, Homeland Security and Patriot Acts started with a lower chance of success, and ended up further south over a slightly longer timespan.

        5. The projects.

        6. I don’t think this plan was well-intentioned.

      3. It’s a third rail all right–and they’re pissing on it.

  5. They meant well.

    LEAVE OBAMA ALOOOOOOOOOOOOOONE!

  6. Insurers Say 20 Percent of Obamacare Sign Ups Haven’t Paid Yet

    Oh, there you go again! Bitching about money!

  7. Free Shit Express, now leaving on track nine.

    All aboooooooard.

    WOOOOO WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!1 chuffchuffchuffchuff

  8. What happened to those millions of people that craved insurance but couldn’t get it? Isn’t that what this was all about? Maybe they don’t have it because if it doesn’t cost 0 they don’t want it?

    1. You can find them in the food and ID deserts.

    2. Wait, you mean their claim of 45 million uninsured who really wanted to be insured but had no “access” was a big fat lie?

      Shocked, I am.

      1. Yeah, the penaltax should have been a big clue that this was BS.

        1. Was there anything about this law that didn’t completely lack even internal logic?

          1. Yes, the delay of any negative effects until after the 2012 election, followed by the employer mandate delay until after the 2014 elections.

          2. Also, it would take 10 years of tax collections to cover 6 years of service.

  9. payment processing is among the back-end computer systems that have not been built yet.

    The fact that this was not the FIRST thing built tells you all you need to know: the federal government is the most cynical organization in history.

    1. Then needed numbers, not money. They can “print/borrow/tax” to get all the money they want.

      They needed another prop to prove their point that “… X number of people wanted insurance and WE gave it them! How gread we are!”

  10. “I think people are enrolling in multiple places,” he said in a conference call. “They are shopping. And what happens is that they never really get back on HealthCare.gov to disenroll from plans they prior enrolled in.”

    If that is true, does that mean the administration double counted people when it calculated enrollments?

    1. “If that is true, does that mean the administration double counted people when it calculated enrollments?”

      Given the history of outright lying and the disaster this thing has become, you’d be crazy to think they are padding the numbers any way they possibly can.

      1. Correction: …they *aren’t* padding the numbers…

  11. Second question. If some of these people get around to paying the premium after the deadline date to do so (whatever that was), will coverage then kick in? Or are they uninsured until the next enrollment period?

  12. It’s Official: Murray Sabrin to Seek the Republican Nomination for the US Senate

    http://www.economicpolicyjourn…..-seek.html

  13. To quote the great Ke$ha: “It’s going down, I’m yelling timber.”

    I wouldn’t be surprised if one of these two things happens: Extend the payment deadline (subsidizing the insurance firms), or completely waive the fee for a year (subsidizing the insurance firms). We can print more money. No biggie.

    I am waiting for a recreation of the scene from VEEP when the dems turn on the president in Season Two – except it will be press conferences of Dems changing colors, starting with Virginia’s Warner.

  14. Somebody here was mentioning the obvious but ignored fact:
    The people who really wanted insurance and couldn’t get it grabbed it the first chance they had. THAT was the only spike in enrollments for the target cohort.
    And of the supposed 48M without insurance we have a paltry 3.3M ‘signups’.
    Maggie’s drawers; not even on the target sheet, let alone in the circles.

  15. It should come as no surprise that any government sponsored national health care coverage would be sabotaged by the health insurance companies, the drug companies, and the American Medical Association working closely with politicians. They all had plenty of time to plan the derailment of this particular plan just as they had in the past, and will do in the future. Any kind of socialized medicine in this country will eventually be trashed, and probably to include Medicare. It is guaranteed by a deeply ingrained Calvinist philosophy that says if you can’t afford it that’s because you don’t deserve it. Take a look at a we site called “America Vision” if you don’t believe that such a philosophy exists.

    1. It is guaranteed by a deeply ingrained Calvinist philosophy that says if you can’t afford it that’s because you don’t deserve it.

      Your utter cluelessness as to how people who disagree with you think explains much of why the world just doesn’t work for you.

      What we are saying is that if you can’t persuade people to provide you with a service voluntarily (either by offering them enough in exchange or appealing to the goodness of their hearts) you have no right to violently force them to provide you that service.

      Furthermore, what we are saying is that if you can’t persuade people to provide you with a service voluntarily by not being able or wanting to offer them enough of your personal possessions in exchange for that service, you have no right to take someone else’s possessions to seal the deal.

      Hope that helps!

      1. tarran

        Why the insults? If you don’t agree with me, you don’t agree with me. Why do you find it necessary to dismiss my comments with thinly veiled insult? All I said was that “socialized” medicine in the United States of America will never happen because there are two many powerful interest groups working against it and they will succeed in making sure that it never becomes a reality. I never said I was for or against “Obamacare”.

        There is truth in my statement that part of the opposition to a national health care plan where the government is involved is affected by a type of “Calvinism”. Perhaps that part of my comment was not appropriate. In any event, and again, why do you feel it is necessary to insult me because of my comments? By the way, who is “we”?

        1. Why the insults? If you don’t agree with me, you don’t agree with me.

          Oh! I apologize! I thought that’s how you communicate, being an ill mannered and aggressively boorish person who reacts to rebuttals with offensive invective.

          1. tarran

            Now I feel free to insult you with impunity. I am curious. Are you an abortion who lived? Other than that you can stick your finger up your rectum, and then lick it while pretending that what you are tasting is really my comments in Hershey Bar form. You have a nice evening Ass Chunk.

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