Watch in the coming days as government officials shout the successes of Obamacare signup numbers. What will they be ignoring? Most people who actually made it through the signup process have yet to pay for their coverage. Reports indicate that of the million or so who have signed up for the program, as many as 90% have not paid for their coverage.
The left-leaning journalism organization ProPublica says the only Obamacare deadline that matters is the one few are talking about: the recently extended January 10 deadline by which so-called Obamacare “enrollees” must make their first premium payment to officially activate their insurance plan.
No payment, no health coverage, notes ProPublica writer Charles Ornstein.
“There’s a huge caveat that isn’t getting much public attention,” says Ornstein. “For coverage to take effect on Jan. 1, enrollees must pay their first month’s premium on time.” Ornstein says this overlooked fact raises “the prospect that actual enrollment will be far lower than the figures HHS [Health and Human Services] is releasing.”
Industry consultant Robert Laszewski told Ornstein that one of the insurers he works with said just 15% of people have paid and activated their plan so far. Another consultant, Kip Piper, put the figure even lower.
“So far I’m hearing from health plans that around 5% and 10% of consumers who have made it through the data transfer gauntlet have paid first month’s premium and therefore truly enrolled,” said Piper, who previously served at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. “I’m hearing it’s a small portion so far. And that, of course, is a fraction of an already comparatively small number of people who have made it through setting up an account.”