We finally have the answer to the billion-dollar question--- as of today, some 7.3 million people who signed up for health coverage on the state or federal exchanges have paid their premiums.
In April, at the end of Obamacare's open enrollment period, the administration said 8 million people had selected a plan on the exchanges--though the number of people who paid their first months premiums was not released at that time.
The much sought after number was provided by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner during a congressional hearing on Thursday.
This was the first time the administration has specifically detailed how many Obamacare enrollees have paid their premiums. For a better part of the year, reporters and lawmakers had pressed CMS to provide estimates.
Republican lawmakers have routinely used the then-mystery number to attack the Obama administration for being less-than-forthcoming with complete information on enrollees.
The drop in enrollees is not surprising. Health experts have cautioned putting much stake in enrollment numbers, since it’s common for health insurance enrollment to fluctuate throughout the year with people switching or leaving jobs, getting married and other various life events that add to the “churn.”
Still, that didn’t quell the demand for answers. Earlier this year, several insurers were asked to provide estimates of who had paid. At the time, they said about 80 to 85 percent of enrollees had paid their premiums.
Meanwhile, the new figure does not take into account the thousands of people who risk losing coverage at the end of the month for not providing proof of their citizenship or immigration status required under the law.
The administration announced earlier this week that it is waiting for 115,000 people to submit that information before Sept. 30 or their coverage will be terminated. Meanwhile, it also said there were income discrepancies with 360,000 people’s applications that must be resolved by the end of the month as well. These people won’t lose their coverage, but may owe more money through the reconciliation process when they file their taxes next year.
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