California Enrollment Pace Slows, 25% Have Yet to Pay First Premium

Covered California released new numbers Tuesday which show that the pace of enrollment has slowed from December highs. In addition, 25 percent of those already considered enrolled have yet to pay their first premium.

Covered California’s spokesman, Peter Lee, says 127,000 people signed up for qualified health plans between December 28th and the middle of January. If you double that number to get a rough idea of what the end of the month figure will look like, January could see 250,000 enrolled. That’s a big improvement over October and November (107,000 combined), but it’s also 35 percent below December’s tally of 390,000.

The slowing pace in California is roughly consistent with other states who have reported mid-month numbers. Maryland appeared to be off December’s pace by 30% and Connecticut was off about 33%.

In addition, Covered California says 25 percent of those enrolled are between 18-35, the so-called young invincibles. That’s very close to the figures reported for the federal exchange. The San Jose Mercury News reportsthe number of young invincibles needs to grow to 36 percent to help balance the exchange’s risk pool of younger.”

Perhaps even more worrisome is the fact that “Three-quarters of the people
who enrolled for an exchange plan that kicked in Jan. 1 have sent their
first premiums to insurance companies
.” That means 25 percent have not paid. Insurance industry expert Bob Laszewski said recently that he expected
10-20 percent of “enrollees” would fail to make a first payment on time.

It’s important to point out that most California insurers extended their deadlines for payment a second time last week. The deadline had been Jan. 15th but insurers added one or two additional weeks, giving people until the 31st in several cases. That means the percentage who fail to pay should go down somewhat over the next week.

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