Though the White House says 3 million people have signed up for Obamacare so far, many have still not paid—meaning the true number of Americans receiving coverage under the new law is still unknown.
According to a new CNN survey of insurers, around one in five people who selected a plan on the state or federal health exchanges have yet to pay their first month’s premiums. That means their policies will likely be cancelled and they will be left without health coverage.
Consumers originally had until Dec 24 to sign up for coverage taking effect on Jan 1. But insurers pushed back their payment deadlines to mid-January to accommodate customers frustrated with the tech-troubled website. Still, insurers say anywhere between 12 percent and 30 percent haven't paid up.
Now they are aggressively trying to reach people who have not paid. According to CNN, Texas-based Scott & White Health Plan reached out 10 times to each person who hadn't paid and delayed the deadline. The company’s chief executive, Allan Einboden, said he expects the payment rate to be at about 80 percent. Other insurers are predicting a similar range. Aetna said about 70 percent of people who signed up for their plans sent in their payments to meet the mid-month deadline. Others like WellPoint gave their customers until Jan 31 to pay.
Insurers said some people hadn’t paid because they were confused about how to activate their policies, others were hesitant about the plans and were still exploring alternative options.
"We figure either those people had a change of heart or thought it was too expensive," Cliff Gold, CoOportunity Health’s chief operating officer, told CNN "Or maybe some people decided to keep what they had."
Insurance companies are sending termination letters to the consumers who missed the deadlines, giving them one last chance to submit a payment.
Knowing the actual number of people who have enrolled and paid for health coverage on the exchanges is crucial to assessing the law’s performance and whether it will be successful. The White House previously estimated that it must sign up at least 7 million people by the end of the open enrollment period on March 31. By the looks of things, they still have quite a long way to go.
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