CREDIT: AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
According to three large insurance companies, at least 80 percent of their new customers who signed up for Obamacare plans have already paid their first premium. Making that first payment is the final step in the enrollment process, and skeptics of the law have been closely watching to see whether they can discredit Obamacare’s eight million sign-ups by pointing out that too few people are actually paying.
Executives from WellPoint, Aetna, and Blue Cross Blue Shield will testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday to report on the progress in Obamacare enrollment. In their prepared testimonies, each insurer confirms that the majority of their new customers has made their first payment. According to WellPoint, at least 90 percent of enrollees have paid. Aetna officials put that figure in the 80 percent range. For the Blue Cross Blue Shield plans operating in five states, at least 83 percent of customers have sent in their first check.
“What you have here is very solid first year enrollment, no matter how you slice it,” Dan Mendelson, the president of Avalere Health, a Washington consulting firm, told Bloomberg News. “This thing is, at this point, well entrenched.”
Insurers are testifying this week because Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee recently released a report finding that just two thirds of new enrollees have paid up. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), who chairs the committee, claimed the report provided “a snapshot of the true enrollment picture as of April 15.”
But Obama administration officials pointed out that report was simply premature, since about a million people signed up for Obamacare in April and their payments weren’t even due by the 15th of the month. The administration has maintained that about 80 to 90 percent of enrollees are paying up — a figure in line with what insurance companies are now reporting.
If that proportion holds true, about 6.4 million to 7.2 million people will end up enrolled in Obamacare’s private marketplaces when all is said and done. That’s fewer enrollees than the eight million sign ups, obviously, but it’s still more than the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicted for the law’s first open enrollment period.
Conservative outlets continue to be dissatisfied with the number of people paying for their plans. “Major Insurers To Testify That 10-20 Percent Failed To Pay Premiums By Deadlines,” a headline on the Daily Caller proclaims. In reality, the transient nature of the individual market ensures that’s not entirely unexpected.