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.”
As CNN notes, “enrolling” on Healthcare.gov means nothing until you actually pay. The Obama administration claims a million people have “enrolled” for Obamacare but remains silent on how many of those individuals have cut their first payment check and truly gained coverage.
For cash-strapped families at Christmas, or for those gaining health insurance for the first time and still adjusting the expense into their budgets, finding the extra funds could prove difficult.
At the end of the application process on Healthcare.gov,customers see a screen that warns them they must pay their first premium to start their insurance coverage and provides a payment button that takes them to their insurer.
California and New York, two of the biggest Obamacare enrollment states, have yet to produce payment data. Blue Shield of California says it does not have a projection of how many Obamacare “enrollees” will gain real coverage by paying their first premium. Likewise, New York state’s Obamacare exchange says , it does not know how many people who have submitted applications have actually paid. However, New York Obamacare exchange director James O’Hare stressed that “in the event that an enrollee does not pay his/her premium, coverage does not go into effect, and they will no longer be enrolled in NY States of Health.”
Perhaps the biggest threat to individuals sending in their activating first month’s check is cratering support for Obamacare. A new CNN poll finds that a record low 35% now support the president’s signature legislative achievement. A staggering 62% of Americans oppose Obamacare.