Insurers: At least 20% of new ObamaCare sign-ups failed to pay their first premium on time

posted at 11:21 am on February 14, 2014 by Allahpundit

So Bob Laszewski was right. Fully one-fifth of the new enrollment numbers that HHS has been waving around are bogus. Their target for the end of January was 4.4 million sign-ups; a few days ago, they told the country they’d made it three-quarters of the way there with 3.3 million. In reality, once the deadbeats are bounced from the rolls by their new insurers, they’ll be in the ballpark of 2.6 million, or 60 percent of their target. And that’s after HHS pressured insurers to extend the payment deadline from December 31 into January, hoping that a little more time for slackers would pad the enrollment figures even more.

Is it “only” 20 percent who haven’t paid, though, or is the actual number even bigger? The Times is guesstimating based on what they’re being told by different insurers, but read down into the piece and you’ll see that the biggest companies are seeing payment rates below 80 percent — another detail flagged by Laszewski when he wrote about this a few days ago. Eighty percent is probably the best-case scenario:

Matthew N. Wiggin, a spokesman for Aetna, said that about 70 percent of people who signed up for its health plans paid their premiums. For Aetna policies taking effect on Jan. 1, the deadline for payment was Jan. 14, and for products sold by Coventry Health Care, which is now part of Aetna, the deadline was Jan. 17…

Kristin E. Binns, a vice president of WellPoint, said that 76 percent of people selecting its health plans on an exchange had paid their share of the first month’s premium by the due date of Jan. 31. The company had received more than 500,000 applications for individual coverage through the exchanges in 14 states, she said…

One big company, Humana, said it had received 200,000 applications for insurance through the exchanges. “About 75 percent of the people paid, and 25 percent did not pay,” said Thomas T. Noland Jr., a senior vice president there. Customers had until Jan. 31 to pay for coverage that took effect on Jan. 1.

What’s the actual payment rate? If it’s 70 percent rather than 80, then suddenly we’re very close to HHS being only halfway to their 4.4 million target at this point.

At least one insurer has now extended the December 31 deadline for premiums to February 15 to delay having to cull their new ObamaCare-friendly consumer base for as long as possible. Note this bit too:

Mark T. Bertolini, the chief executive of Aetna, said last week that the company had 135,000 “paid members,” out of 200,000 who began to enroll through the exchanges. “I think people are enrolling in multiple places,” he said in a conference call. “They are shopping. And what happens is that they never really get back on to disenroll from plans they prior enrolled in.”

In other words, John Smith signs up for Aetna’s coverage on but waits before paying his first premium; then he sees a cheaper plan at Humana and signs up directly with that company, making his first payment on time. He’s paid up — but he’s still on the books at Aetna as a deadbeat. Or maybe he signs up for a different Aetna plan than he originally chose, leaving him with two separate accounts at Aetna and paid up on only one of them. However you slice it, there are bogus “enrollments” being counted by HHS that are going to end up being canceled soon. How many?

Here’s another data point from my pal Karl. Ask the state exchanges what sort of payment rates they’re seeing and some will tell you it’s a lot lower than 80 percent:

Washington and Wisconsin have reported that barely half of those signing up submitted payments. But the paying portion is 66% in Nevada, 80% in Vermont and 85% in Rhode Island.

Even if 85% were the national average, though, it would still cut ObamaCare’s paid enrollment by a half million to 2.8 million vs. a March 31 goal of 7 million.

It’s possible that paid enrollees represent an even costlier patient population than the updated national sign-up figures suggest.

That last bit is an excellent point. If you had to guess what sort of enrollee would be scrupulous about getting his first premium in on time, what would you guess? Would it be the “young healthy” who signed up on in December to keep his options open but who’s ambivalent about popping for coverage this year because he’s not earning much? Or would it be someone who knows they’ll need expensive medical treatment this year and wants to be absolutely certain that their coverage is in effect? In other words, not only are insurers going to have to thin their risk-pool herd for nonpayment, but it may be that young adults — the most prized of all enrollees — are a disproportionately large segment among the deadbeats. Which means the looming adverse selection problem is about to get worse, not better.

Oh, and by the way: The website still isn’t working for some people. Thus concludes HHS’s week of enrollment glory.

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Good solid B-…

JohnGalt23 on February 14, 2014 at 11:25 AM

Epic fail I’m waiting for Obama to sign EO to pay everyone’s premium for the first three months

cmsinaz on February 14, 2014 at 11:26 AM

Are the one’s that enrolled in Medicaid also in this final figure? What if there’s 20%-25% in this category? #movingthegoalpost

Rovin on February 14, 2014 at 11:29 AM

Oh what a clusterfark Obama is…. hehehehehe O_0

Scrumpy on February 14, 2014 at 11:29 AM

At least 20% of the enrollees in Obamacare should have their premiums covered by the addition of a line or two on the 1040 forms of the 1%.

GodlessCommie on February 14, 2014 at 11:30 AM

They will be encamped soon.

Schadenfreude on February 14, 2014 at 11:35 AM

Almost 5.5 million, so far, lost their insurance under Obamacare, less than 3 millions have registered for Obamacare and 20% of them did not pay i.e. they are not insured… So how many are uninsured after Obamacare than before Obamacare?

5.5×10^6- 3×10^6×0.8 = 3.1 x10^6. So we have now 3.6 millions more people uninsured after Obamacare than before Obamacare…

also let us not forget that the super vast majority of those who signed for Obamacare were insured before and a tiny minority from the previously uninsured signed up for Obamacare not counting Medicaid…

mnjg on February 14, 2014 at 11:36 AM

With a stroke of his pen, the preezy will declare the slackers paid in full. Cover it with the safe harbor stuff.

Heck, he doesn’t even NEED the pen – just the phone, and some undocumented backroom deals!


Marcola on February 14, 2014 at 11:38 AM

Obama dictate, making those who claim to be unable to pay their ObamaCare premiums now eligible for MediCaid to resolve this blatant inequality, in 5 .. 4 .. 3 …

ShainS on February 14, 2014 at 11:41 AM

They’re waiting for their Income Tax Refunds…

kirkill on February 14, 2014 at 11:44 AM

Nobody is still saying how many of the people signing up were people who had lost their insurance on the private market? If all they are doing is selling insurance to people who already had it, then this whole exercise is NOT helping the people it was supposed to help, which were the uninsured! All we seem to be doing is forcing people from the private market into an expensive government-funded program. And this is progress?

Libertyship46 on February 14, 2014 at 11:47 AM

Breaking NEWS…….


donabernathy on February 14, 2014 at 11:50 AM

OT, kind of – Squirrel @WestCoast

The oaf in chief, disapproval sky-high, is in Fresno, to bullchit the farmers about “your drought is due to global warming, here are 200 million, now vote for me/us Ds, the Rs are at fault for your losses”…then he’ll fly to Palm Springs and be there until Monday, without Michelette. It’s good to be king. Work harder taxpayers!

Attention broken-hearted and lonely Americans: President Barack Obama feels your pain. He’s happily married, of course, but in solidarity with the lovelorn–those victims of romantic inequality–he’s spending Valentine’s Day alone. Well, not entirely alone–he’s set to enjoy a guys’ weekend with Jordan’s King Abdullah in Palm Springs–apparently without Queen Noor. Who knows what those boys will get up to, with Vegas nearby.

Nah, Palm Springs is gay-Heaven for those two boys. Michelette is happy to be with Valerie Jarrett.

p.s. He’ll bs the King of Jordana too. Like all the friends of America he will be sacrificed, next, all for obama’s bros, the muzzie brotherhood.

Schadenfreude on February 14, 2014 at 11:50 AM


Schadenfreude on February 14, 2014 at 11:51 AM

Failed to pay or…didn’t expect they’d have to pay?

BuckeyeSam on February 14, 2014 at 11:55 AM

I thought it was free?

Pegcity on February 14, 2014 at 11:56 AM

Let’s not forget that the 3.3 million number is inflated as well.

rjoco1 on February 14, 2014 at 11:56 AM

When did America trade in a free press for willing propagandists?

Who should be locked up first? The propagandists or the politicians? I think the former. With a real press the politicians would have been run out of the country a long time ago.

Floriduh Jim on February 14, 2014 at 11:56 AM

Hi all,

Some additional comments are in order:

In Massachusetts, it is almost impossible for individuals to use the MA Health Connector to sign up for coverage. The state indicates that only about 30,000 have succeeded to-date. Somewhere around 600,000 received termination notices from the participating plans in the state program before it was “Obamacare-ized”.

There are very real problems attempting to go around the system. In MA, individuals are allowed to purchase coverage directly from insurance companies without going through the Connector, although the price is a little higher. For instance, I priced a plan under the Connector (you can get that far, at least) and then priced the same plan for a direct quote from Harvard Pilgrim, one of the state’s leading insurers. The direct quote was $33 per month higher, a small price to pay if you could actually buy insurance.

The problems is that there’s a high degree of chaos. For example I attempted to purchase a plan for my 91 year old mom who’s in a nursing home and received a termination notice from HPHC. I worked with her and HPHC customer support staff to complete an application and send a down-payment in early December, only to receive it back because the application was for coverage beginning April 1, when her current plan ceases to exist, not January 1. “We haven’t even set the rates for April 1 yet”. Yesterday, I called HPHC to follow up as the customer support folk suggested. The rates have yet to be set for plans that begin in six weeks.

What’s even more egregious is that HPHC are beginning to pile on the complications, in an attempt to keep folks like my mother out of the plans. At 91, she’s obviously high-risk on paper (in actuality she has a DNR in place and will likely pass away in her bed at the nursing home rather than enduring the agony of dieing in an ICU). The HPHC folk informed me that I’m going to need to provide 3 forms of proof or residency, and this is for a patient who is currently on their rolls.

I guess I can’t blame them – who wants to be required to accept an app from a 91 year old (my mom is not covered by Medicare – although she’s a natural-born American citizen, she’s spent much of her life outside the country) even though under current MA law, HPHC is required to accept and enroll all comers.

By the way, I called the Consumer Affairs division of the State Health Insurance Commission yesterday to see if they had any advice to offer. Got a woman who’s a true believer, didn’t want to understand that there could possibly be a problem and when I pointed out the HPHC issues, suggested I find another plan. The fact that HPHC is the only insurer in the state that has physicians in their directory who have privileges to practice in the nursing home where my mother resides did not seem to make any difference. She suggested that I work with a physician in the directory of another plan to have him/her gain access to the nursing home. At that point it was clear she was a true moron.

Anyway, sorry for the long-winded response, but given that I”m a healthcare expert (I was once a CEO of a medical billing company, for example) it’s hard to see how the average uninformed citizen/voter can possibily navigate the systems in place to make any kind of informed decision. Overall, I think the likelihood of Obamacare surviving this catastrophe is close to zero.

Please feel free to publish or use any of my story as you wish. Just leave my name out if it. I don’t need to be audited by the IRS.


neilherring on February 14, 2014 at 11:57 AM

They are waiting for the check from the government that will pay for their first months…

“You mean I have to pay?”

right2bright on February 14, 2014 at 11:59 AM

neilherring on February 14, 2014 at 11:57 AM

If it’s that complicated, the LIV’s sure won’t know what to do and in all honesty, probably still believe that HC Ins is free for them!

Oh the Humanity! H/T alt… :)

Scrumpy on February 14, 2014 at 12:07 PM

“You mean I have to pay?”

right2bright on February 14, 2014 at 11:59 AM


“Keep Obama in prezdent. He give us a phone, he gonna do more!”

climbnjump on February 14, 2014 at 12:07 PM

Damn those racist Republicans.

Art Vandelay on February 14, 2014 at 12:09 PM

Well, despite all the ‘bumps in the road’ in the liberal effort to give Obama a heroic legacy, he’s still the first African-American president. You can’t take that away from him, it’s historic!

otlset on February 14, 2014 at 12:12 PM

Here is more analysis and data to back up the developing adverse selection story.

ironman on February 14, 2014 at 12:27 PM

neilherring on February 14, 2014 at 11:57 AM

Read what Neil says above.

Also, the consumer affairs person is truly clueless in suggesting that he could get another doctor from another plan to come to the nursing home. Physician for the most part seek to avoid nursing homes as nursing home patients generate incredible numbers of phone calls from the nurses. Secondly, getting privileges (the ability to admit and care for patients) at a nursing home is an extremely paperwork intensive several week long process–you don’t just show up and start seeing patients. Third, coming to a nursing home changes your liability insurance and some insurance companies won’t insure you, as nursing home cases are among the latest favorite targets for malpractice lawyers. Finally, going to and from the nursing home is time intensive and takes away from hospital/office time, and is therefor not financially worth it for most physicians–I would be willing to bet that the group that sees Neil’s mom is one of the few that comes or wants to come, and that their practice is located relatively near the nursing home.

So good luck, Neil. I hope it works out.

Doc Holliday on February 14, 2014 at 12:34 PM

What percentage of the people who have paid are getting a free ride from the government?

OxyCon on February 14, 2014 at 12:39 PM

“Or maybe he signs up for a different Aetna plan than he originally chose, leaving him with two separate accounts at Aetna and paid up on only one of them.”

That’s me. Lost my insurance in October because of Obamacare, applied through Covered CA during the height of the website malfunctions, discovered later I could simply apply through the insurers’ web site, did so, and paid that premium.

I haven’t tried to cancel my Covered CA application because I’m afraid those yahoos will cancel my real coverage by mistake. Hence, I am one of those “enrolled, but not paid.”

Mike Antonucci on February 14, 2014 at 2:08 PM

They (the 20%)probably thought it was going to be free like everything the government gives them. Hey, isn’t that about the percentage of self-described liberals in the country? It must be a coincidence.

cajunpatriot on February 14, 2014 at 2:31 PM

You don’t think the government would lie about this do you..?

d1carter on February 14, 2014 at 2:43 PM

You don’t think the State Run Media would cover for Dear Leader do you..?

d1carter on February 14, 2014 at 2:45 PM

All this sturm und strang about payment for January enrollment.

Ask a car insurance company about February payments…March? April? Ad infinitum because it’s required by law?

People only pay their cell phone bill so they don’t get shut off. They know the emergency rooms are still going to be open.

The drop-off will be precipitous and January will look like a relative success.

winoceros on February 14, 2014 at 3:14 PM

Not a problem. They can send the IRS out to collect the premiums. Isn’t that the plan?

oldennis on February 14, 2014 at 3:16 PM

Been waiting for all of this cr*ap to hit/hopefully dawn on, one of our more rabid lefty friends on FB.
The one who bragged profusely about her new, really CHEAP plan, y’know ??

Well, she just posted that when she got her most recent CAT scan, the office said they had no record of her insurance payment, which she claims she’d done online, during enrollment.
They did run the test, sent her home with the bill, for nnow, until she can prove she’d made her first payment/was enrolled .. just bring them proof, no biggie.
She came home, got online, discovered that her ACA ins provider had no record of her payment, so she couldn’t print out proof.. she PHONED, was told it had never been recorded as paid (tho she swears she had) . SOOOO…

Feeling desperate, she once again paid it online, only to have provider tell her it HAD been paid, now TWICE, so her bank has been charged x2, their bank account is now overdrawn, and provider will MAIL her the receipt/proof, and refund the 2nd charge, both to arrive in 10-15 days.

Now, her rant is how freaking mean is the ACA-insurance provider !!!
How dare they borrow her $ for 10-15 days !!
Mean old a-holes !!

Can’t win.
Certainly can’t be the Ocare nonsense, nope .. best thing since scliced bread, y’know.

pambi on February 14, 2014 at 4:37 PM

Is there no end to the wickedness of George Bush?

307wolverine on February 14, 2014 at 7:51 PM