Surprise: Insurers begin granting grace periods to pay first month of premiums on new ObamaCare plans

posted at 3:31 pm on December 12, 2013 by Allahpundit

When you’re staring at 95 percent nonpayment in some cases and an unholy clusterfark in January of people not realizing that their coverage hasn’t taken effect yet, you’re going to do everything you can to mitigate the problem.

And this will mitigate it. A little.

As a deadline approaches for people to sign up for medical insurance under President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, some insurers and state-run online marketplaces are giving shoppers an extra week to pay their first premiums.

The shift to early January from the end of December provides a short grace period for insurers and shoppers to work through any errors in the new policies caused by technology problems dogging enrollment since it opened on October 1…

Aetna Inc, which is selling health insurance on exchanges, or marketplaces, in more than a dozen states, will allow consumers to pay premiums as late as January 8. The Connecticut exchange, Access Health CT, said some shoppers can pay as late as January 7. The Vermont exchange and Covered California have announced similar extensions while Maryland requires payment by January 15.

Cristine Vogel, a Navigant Consulting associate director who has health insurers and providers as clients, said that the grace period is a way for insurers to keep their members at a time when confusion about coverage is expected.

That’ll avert lapses in coverage for people who see the doctor early next month, not realizing that their first payment was already due by New Year’s Eve. Remember, though, according to one expert who spoke to Charles Ornstein about this, insurers can probably expect only half of their customers to have paid up by the December 31st deadline. Even if another 25 percent manage to make payment during the grace period, you’re still looking at thousands of people whose coverage will lapse in January. That’s a political disaster for HHS in the making. Uncle Sam will have to do something about it. But what?

Bob Laszewski says insurers are telling him that only about 20 percent of “enrollees” have made their payments so far. And that’s not all:

As of this week, the 834 transaction error rates (enrollments sent from the government to the health plans) are better than they were in October and early November but are still running in the 5% to 10% range––a place they have been for a number of weeks now.

The Obama administration has still not built the reconciliation computer system needed to clean up the remaining enrollment data issues between HealthCare.gov and the health plans. The health plans have been told to expect an electronic file in the next few days, containing what the feds think are the health plan’s enrollments through November. The plans will then have to figure out how to reconcile the two lists and then fix the problems. Many plans will have thousands of enrollments to reconcile. There will be another such file coming in January for the December enrollments with likely tens of thousands of more names to reconcile. That means that any December errors will have to be fixed before people can be covered, thereby creating additional customer service issues until the files can be cleaned up.

We know there’s already a backlog of tens of thousands of applications in some of the state exchanges, but we don’t know — as usual — how bad it is at the federal level. That’s another incentive for insurers to grant a grace period for people who miss their payments: If their enrollment is voided due to nonpayment and they’re forced to re-enroll, not only is there a chance they’ll sign up with a different insurer, it’s more paperwork for their current insurer even if they decide to stick with them. And thanks to President Bumblefark’s botched website and delayed deadline for enrollment, more paperwork in late December/early January is something insurers simply can’t afford.

Exit question: Is it possible that some people out there don’t yet understand that they’re expected to pay at all? I’m tempted to say no: When you shop on the exchange, the premiums are listed right there in front of you. If anything, the greater risk is that people are paying too much attention to the pricetag and overlooking the fact that their new deductibles might be higher than expected and their provider network smaller than expected. On the other hand, if I’ve learned one thing from blogging polls over the years, it’s that you should never underestimate the stupidity of the very low-information voter. Could it be that there’s someone out there who’s so stupid that he/she thinks insurance in the age of Obama Claus is free? Exit answer: Yes.


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Non-payment???…I thought this whole healthcare thing was supposed to be free???…

PatriotRider on December 12, 2013 at 3:34 PM

Casablanca-shocked!

Schadenfreude on December 12, 2013 at 3:35 PM

Yippee!! Now the dems can have a Happy New Years celebration before the collapse of everything they know.

oldroy on December 12, 2013 at 3:35 PM

When does Dear Leader just eliminate those pesky insurance companies?

d1carter on December 12, 2013 at 3:35 PM

Think the IRS will give a grace period on my taxes?

Wasn’t sure if I was enrolled or something…

Gatsu on December 12, 2013 at 3:35 PM

Quite the cluster f**k…

sandee on December 12, 2013 at 3:35 PM

Still no hard demographic data on who exactly is signing up, and of course the real treat is yet to come this summer.

Lean Forward, right into the grave.

Bishop on December 12, 2013 at 3:35 PM

If anything, the greater risk is that people are paying too much attention to the pricetag and overlooking the fact that their new deductibles might be higher than expected and their provider network smaller than expected. On the other hand, if I’ve learned one thing from blogging polls over the years, it’s that you should never underestimate the stupidity of the very low-information voter.

Won’t it be funny? All of those sick people realizing in about July that all of those bills coming to their address are actually theirs to pay. Yeah. That will be funny.

oldroy on December 12, 2013 at 3:36 PM

It’s a law!

No, it’s THE law!!

No, it’s a wobble in tweaks!

Hey, no, you can take your time, tweaks need time, you got it!

What about the law?

::Waving Hand::

There, solved that point with another pivot.

Lourdes on December 12, 2013 at 3:37 PM

Could it be that there’s someone out there who’s so stupid that he/she thinks insurance in the age of Obama Claus is free? Exit answer: Yes.

AP, don’t forget that Sibelius said yesterday that lots of things “are free”.

Schadenfreude on December 12, 2013 at 3:38 PM

What percentage of these people who haven’t paid are actually people who haven’t really decided definitely whether they are going to pull the trigger or not? I think that’s the big wild card here, especially since there will be people who find out that their premiums are going to be significantly higher than they thought they were. My guess is that it’s going to be alot of people.

eyedoc on December 12, 2013 at 3:38 PM

Think the IRS will give a grace period on my taxes?

Wasn’t sure if I was enrolled or something…

Gatsu on December 12, 2013 at 3:35 PM

That is the telling point. No individual will be “granted” any liberties to violate “the law” in any way. Have a problem with the glitchy-website? Who cares, “pay me,” so says the IRS.

Lourdes on December 12, 2013 at 3:39 PM

When you shop on the exchange, the premiums are listed right there in front of you.

Conversation in LIV household:

“Look honey!! Look how much we would have had to pay if Obama weren’t giving this to us for free!!”

BacaDog on December 12, 2013 at 3:39 PM

They need to get me , BoxHead – the sexiest man in America, on the payroll. I’ll turn those numbers around.

BoxHead1 on December 12, 2013 at 3:39 PM

Won’t it be funny? All of those sick people realizing in about July that all of those bills coming to their address are actually theirs to pay. Yeah. That will be funny.

oldroy on December 12, 2013 at 3:36 PM

Enter The Daughter Of Bailouts (I would say “Son”, but that’s sexist, and assuming Clinton can keep the field clear, “sexist” will be the new “raaaaacist”)

Steve Eggleston on December 12, 2013 at 3:40 PM

Caution, language.

http://youtu.be/5ydqjqZ_3oc

Lourdes on December 12, 2013 at 3:40 PM

Could it be that there’s someone out there who’s so stupid that he/she thinks insurance in the age of Obama Claus is free? Exit answer: Yes.

Magic 8 ball says: Absolutely frakking yes. Just think of the Obamaphone woman.

rbj on December 12, 2013 at 3:41 PM

AP, don’t forget that Sibelius said yesterday that lots of things “are free”.

Schadenfreude on December 12, 2013 at 3:38 PM

No…seriously…it’s not free???…

PatriotRider on December 12, 2013 at 3:41 PM

Speaking of “sexist”, will it be spelled with 1 “x”, 3 in homage to the adult entertainment industry, or 5 like “raaaaacist”?

Steve Eggleston on December 12, 2013 at 3:42 PM

This will continue, and Obama will make sure more things just like it take place in order to avoid the catastrophe everyone’s banking on for 2014.

It’s not coming. The Democrats won’t allow it, not while they rule and control the printing presses. There will be no Armageddon at the ballot box in November; Obama et al will do whatever it takes to ensure it simply doesn’t happen.

And the GOP won’t ‘fight’ any part of it, will they, shills? Not worth it, not now, hold your fire, wait for a better opportunity, blah blah blah. What they *will* do is help get amnesty passed, perhaps just in time for the election – slitting their own political throats in the process.

Midas on December 12, 2013 at 3:42 PM

Why would you have to pay for something that’s free?

UnderstandingisPower on December 12, 2013 at 3:43 PM

It’s coming: Dog Eater will EO that EBT cards can be used to pay for medical services, and the EBT accounts will be filled accordingly. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Bishop on December 12, 2013 at 3:43 PM

AP, don’t forget that Sibelius said yesterday that lots of things “are free”.

Schadenfreude on December 12, 2013 at 3:38 PM

The Left can’t admit, ever, that taxes are someone else’s money, that they’re spending the property of someoe else to court and spark their own habits and wants.

Sebelius was a good display yesterday of just that. She just can’t, cannot, admit that she’s using other people, that “it” is not “free” — because she’s taking without agreement. Theft is another word the Left won’t use as to what they’re engaged in. To admit it would mean they’d have to acknowledge that IT’S SOMEONE ELSE’S MONEY. And usually comes without the owner’s permission.

Lourdes on December 12, 2013 at 3:46 PM

It’s coming: Dog Eater will EO that EBT cards can be used to pay for medical services, and the EBT accounts will be filled accordingly. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Bishop on December 12, 2013 at 3:43 PM

Walmart may take a beating without that EBT money.

oldroy on December 12, 2013 at 3:46 PM

Won’t it be funny? All of those sick people realizing in about July that all of those bills coming to their address are actually theirs to pay. Yeah. That will be funny.

oldroy on December 12, 2013 at 3:36 PM

Hope I’m wrong, but I’m betting that simply won’t be allowed to happen.

Like the union waiver that was guaranteed not to happen but did anyway, through unexpected channels, so too will all of those people “have insurance”, with the bill not really having to be paid until December 2014, or perhaps not ever, after Obama decrees that the US Treasury shall pay everyone’s Obamacare bills in 2014, being the magnanimous emperor that he is.

There will be no wave of anger in the country before election day; everyone would be well advised to stop putting all of their eggs in that particular basket.

IMHO, of course.

Midas on December 12, 2013 at 3:46 PM

When you’re staring at 95 percent nonpayment in some cases and an unholy clusterfark in January of people not realizing that their coverage hasn’t taken effect yet, you’re going to do everything you can to mitigate the problem.

The insurers will be very patient with nonpaying customers for one reason only. Obama can screw them over by delaying or limiting the bailout they’re relying on if/when Obamacare doesn’t turn out to the be goldmine they thought 4 years ago. That’s what happens when you make a deal with the devil.

On the other hand, if I’ve learned one thing from blogging polls over the years, it’s that you should never underestimate the stupidity of the very low-information voter. Could it be that there’s someone out there who’s so stupid that he/she thinks insurance in the age of Obama Claus is free?

I think it’s a safe bet that the majority of people who still support this law in the polls are ignoramuses who A) believe it’s free health care and B) don’t realize that they have to pay a fine if they don’t have insurance come January.

Doughboy on December 12, 2013 at 3:48 PM

It’s coming: Dog Eater will EO that EBT cards can be used to pay for medical services, and the EBT accounts will be filled accordingly. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Bishop on December 12, 2013 at 3:43 PM

See, there ya go; I suspect you’re being a little snarky, but something exactly like that will happen, and we shouldn’t be surprised when it does. :)

Midas on December 12, 2013 at 3:48 PM

Is it possible that some people out there don’t yet understand that they’re expected to pay at all? I’m tempted to say no

C’mon. This was all but sold as free healthcare.

Could it be that there’s someone out there who’s so stupid that he/she thinks insurance in the age of Obama Claus is free? Exit answer: Yes.

That’s more like it.

Bitter Clinger on December 12, 2013 at 3:49 PM

I think it’s a safe bet that the majority of people who still support this law in the polls are ignoramuses who A) believe it’s free health care and B) don’t realize that they have to pay a fine if they don’t have insurance come January.

Doughboy on December 12, 2013 at 3:48 PM

The fine will be easy for Obama to waive, too.

Midas on December 12, 2013 at 3:49 PM

The fine will be easy for Obama to waive, too.

Midas on December 12, 2013 at 3:49 PM

The sad thing is he doesn’t even have to waive it for most folks. It’s been reported that legally the IRS has no way to get that fine from people if they’re not owed a tax refund. Considering half the country currently pays no federal income tax, we could be looking at a lot of folks who’ll owe that fine but could decide not to pay it since Uncle Sam won’t be able to do a damn thing about it. And while that may play well with Democrat voters who love free stuff, remember that all that revenue from the fines are being counted on by the federal government.

Doughboy on December 12, 2013 at 3:54 PM

@Midas might have the right answer to this problem. MrObama will just declare that “we” will pay everyone’s insurance bill..presto! Single payer.

srdem65 on December 12, 2013 at 3:56 PM

It’s coming: Dog Eater will EO that EBT cards can be used to pay for medical services, and the EBT accounts will be filled accordingly. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Bishop on December 12, 2013 at 3:43 PM

The EBT cards parasites already have Medicaid, they do not pay for anything when it comes to healthcare…

mnjg on December 12, 2013 at 4:06 PM

EMBRACE THE SUCK…..

crosshugger on December 12, 2013 at 4:09 PM

What a mess. Time to call in Beef Supreme?

forest on December 12, 2013 at 4:09 PM

The EBT cards parasites already have Medicaid, they do not pay for anything when it comes to healthcare…

mnjg on December 12, 2013 at 4:06 PM

Noted, I will amend:

“Dog Eater announces an expansion of EBT coverage to pretty much anyone who asks.”

Bishop on December 12, 2013 at 4:09 PM

That’ll avert lapses in coverage for people who see the doctor early next month, not realizing that their first payment was already due by New Year’s Eve.

Hah! Won’t make a bit of difference. First, it will be a doctor they have never seen before, so no relationship lost if they don’t pay him. But more importantly, how many of those first doctor visits will be in excess of $12,000? These LIV’s have no understanding of deductibles, they just know they have free insurance.

NOMOBO on December 12, 2013 at 4:10 PM

These LIV’s have no understanding of deductibles, they just know they have free insurance.

NOMOBO on December 12, 2013 at 4:10 PM

Yet another realization in July: “Oh. That’s what deductible means.”

oldroy on December 12, 2013 at 4:14 PM

How’s this for a scenario: Someone driving home after New Year’s Eve party, about 3AM on Jan 1 is hit by another driver and ends up in hospital, and is out of work, and works on commission or some other way has not been paid yet, and is still in hospital on Jan 8th, after due date for insurance, Are they covered?

ConservativePartyNow on December 12, 2013 at 4:14 PM

Yet another realization in July: “Oh. That’s what deductible means.”

oldroy on December 12, 2013 at 4:14 PM

“I thought it meant the hospital deducts that amount from what I owe, and if I don’t owe that much then I get the difference in cash.”

-Barky voter

Bishop on December 12, 2013 at 4:21 PM

Yet another realization in July: “Oh. That’s what deductible means.”

oldroy on December 12, 2013 at 4:14 PM

“What I pay 40percent and they only pay 60″ CRAP!!!

Wait what’s percent mean again?

MontanaMmmm on December 12, 2013 at 4:28 PM

No such luck for me as self-employed, self-insured, not an Obama parasite.

Blue Cross wanted their January 2014 payment (double that for 2013 premiums with no health changes) in full in advance by December 20th or subject to cancellation… but wait, there’s more.

So, along with the December full payment went the January 2014 full payment with the added feature that those had to be made simultaneously rather than as two separate payments lest paying the 2014 premium later than the December 2013 premium due date be construed as nonpayment of the December premium.

Welcome to Communism, folks.

I’m not blaming Blue Cross but The Reich and our Fuehrer whose economic experts still wonder that Moochelle’s taxpayer lobster is “free” because the chef dumps a platter of it in front of her lowness each feeding time.

viking01 on December 12, 2013 at 4:32 PM

Could it be that there’s someone out there who’s so stupid that he/she thinks insurance in the age of Obama Claus is free? Exit answer: Yes.

Do we need any more proof than this or this.

The defense rests.

D-fusit on December 12, 2013 at 4:32 PM

The EBT cards parasites already have Medicaid, they do not pay for anything when it comes to healthcare…

reckon EBTs have gas purchase features yet?

DanMan on December 12, 2013 at 4:34 PM

How’s this for a scenario: Someone driving home after New Year’s Eve party, about 3AM on Jan 1 is hit by another driver and ends up in hospital, and is out of work, and works on commission or some other way has not been paid yet, and is still in hospital on Jan 8th, after due date for insurance, Are they covered?

ConservativePartyNow on December 12, 2013 at 4:14 PM

Tweaks: 1. The driver resides in New York but the accident and hospital are in Pennsylvania.

2.If the New York insurance company grants him coverage is he covered in Pennsylvania as well?

3. Must he embrace the suck in any case?

Mason on December 12, 2013 at 4:37 PM

this reminds me of the Option ARMs right before the housing crisis..you know…if you don’t want to pay right now…well, we’ll just add it to your amt due…reverse amortization I think they called it.

We have a country of crooked, stupid, greedy people trying to squeeze every angle to get ‘their share’. That’s what they vote for…that what the leftist media cheers for.

Get it while you can! Si se puede! The RINO party is weak, aimless and corrupt because..how exactly are you going to tell the country that their life is based on a fabric of lies?

r keller on December 12, 2013 at 4:42 PM

January 8? That’s perfect. If there’s any time of the year when people have boatloads of extra cash it’s right after Christmas. Oh, and the heating bills are extra low in January too.

DamnCat on December 12, 2013 at 4:47 PM

This Big Brother fascist government propaganda is really beginning to frighten me.
It’s one thing for government to advertise that I need to sign up for selective service… It’s entirely another for it to start dictating terms of my daily life.

If people start getting used to this (and they will) you can kiss individual liberty good-bye… All there will be is collectivist liberty and a well regulated populace.

Skywise on December 12, 2013 at 4:49 PM

Yep, now HHS wants the insurance companies to accept “downpayments”…? Oh baby!

d1carter on December 12, 2013 at 4:55 PM

If I were a person who slogged thru this slop and made a payment – while someone else has procrastinated and is given one or two free months — I’d be furious.

One person has less money for heat, groceries, Christmas gifts, etc

matthew8787 on December 12, 2013 at 4:59 PM

“Reconcilation computer systems” and “back ends”

Krauthammer is correct. Stop using these govt-speak technical terms. Call it the “cash register,” which people can understand.

matthew8787 on December 12, 2013 at 5:00 PM

To HHS: You cannot be serious!

d1carter on December 12, 2013 at 5:03 PM

So….the insurance bill will be due the same time your Visa, Mastercard, and Discover Card bills are due? Nice.

olesparkie on December 12, 2013 at 5:05 PM

Aetna Inc, which is selling health insurance on exchanges, or marketplaces, in more than a dozen states, will allow consumers to pay premiums as late as January 8. The Connecticut exchange, Access Health CT, said some shoppers can pay as late as January 7. The Vermont exchange and Covered California have announced similar extensions while Maryland requires payment by January 15.

Oh goody!. You don’t have to make your Jan payment until the 15th. When do you have to make your Feb payment by? The 23rd?

Greg Q on December 12, 2013 at 5:05 PM

Let us compare this with my being late with a COBRA payment.

Oh. Wait. I was never late with a COBRA payment, because they would have CANCELED MY INSURANCE.

Somehow, Obama didn’t give a hoot about people like me whose hours were reduced but still had to find the money to pay for their insurance. And next year, I’ll get to find out how much more Obamacare is going to cost me. Awesome.

Meryl Yourish on December 12, 2013 at 5:07 PM

Yeah but time is money. This will cost the insurance companies money and guess who will pay for it.

Chessplayer on December 12, 2013 at 5:20 PM

Could it be that there’s someone out there who’s so stupid that he/she thinks insurance in the age of Obama Claus is free? Exit answer: Yes.

I’ve been saying this for 3 years, there are millions out there who think they are going to get their “Obamacare card” in the mail at some point and they just take it to their ER and get whatever they want. There were tons of reports of people showing up at ERs and doctor’s offices the day after the ACA passed demanding their “free health care.”

This is why the law provided millions to pay these “navigators” – to help the clueless figure out that unless they qualify for Medicaid they are going to have to pay for that Obamacare card.

rockmom on December 12, 2013 at 5:42 PM

Let us compare this with my being late with a COBRA payment.

Oh. Wait. I was never late with a COBRA payment, because they would have CANCELED MY INSURANCE.

Somehow, Obama didn’t give a hoot about people like me whose hours were reduced but still had to find the money to pay for their insurance. And next year, I’ll get to find out how much more Obamacare is going to cost me. Awesome.

Meryl Yourish on December 12, 2013 at 5:07 PM

I was going to suggest we all just pay our federal tax bill sometime in May, and see how that works.

rockmom on December 12, 2013 at 5:44 PM

We can just charge it on our BarryCareCard.

Another Drew on December 12, 2013 at 6:34 PM

They will do anything to save this monstrosity. It will not “fail”no matter the cost.

CWchangedhisNicagain on December 12, 2013 at 6:43 PM

I can hardly wait to see who’s going to get stuck with the check.

GarandFan on December 12, 2013 at 7:37 PM

Could it be that there’s someone out there who’s so stupid that he/she thinks insurance in the age of Obama Claus is free? Exit answer: Yes.

Of course. This is what most people think. That was the deal. Nobody read the bill or what politicians were saying in the news. They are not that interested. It’s very boring.

Consequently, there will have to be another special forgiveness program to help out governments whose healthcare plans are underwater. As long as doctors, nurses and hospitals work for no money, it will be fine.

virgo on December 14, 2013 at 2:52 AM