Uh oh: House committee claims only two-thirds of federal ObamaCare enrollees paid first premium by April 15

And you know what that means: No money, no coverage, which means the widely touted figure of eight million enrollments that Barack “Mission Accomplished” Obama’s been pushing lately is flatly bogus. Anyone who hasn’t paid by the end of the grace period offered by their insurer — and some of those grace periods were undoubtedly extended beyond April 15th, the cut-off date for this analysis — will be tossed from the rolls.

The figure that’s been cited for months on payment rates is 80 percent. The Energy and Commerce Committee claims it’s actually significantly lower, at least when it comes to enrollees on the federal exchange, i.e. Healthcare.gov. As you read, focus on the following question. Why couldn’t HHS have calculated this?

Data provided to the committee by every insurance provider in the health care law’s Federally Facilitated Marketplace (FFM) shows that, as of April 15, 2014, only 67 percent of individuals and families that had selected a health plan in the federally facilitated marketplace had paid their first month’s premium and therefore completed the enrollment process. Nationwide, only 25 percent of paid enrollees are ages 18 to 34

On April 17, 2014, President Obama declared the success of his law, claiming that 8 million Americans had signed up for health insurance, but data from the insurance providers reveals that the president’s figure is largely misleading. As of April 15, 2014, insurers informed the committee that only 2.45 million had paid their first month’s premium for coverage obtained through the federally facilitated marketplace. While the administration has relied on questionable nationwide figures to boast the law’s success, the state-by-state breakdown compiled by the committee underscores the serious problems facing some states…

“In a sad reversal away from its vows of transparency, the Obama administration, from inside the Oval Office on down, has gone to extraordinary lengths to keep basic details of the health law from the public. Tired of receiving incomplete pictures of enrollment in the health care law, we went right to the source and found that the administration’s recent declarations of success may be unfounded,” commented full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). “We need a complete picture of how this law is working. We will continue to strive for transparency and hold the administration accountable for this law’s shortcomings and broken promises.”

One big caveat here: Because they’re only looking at states that use the federal exchange, they’re missing the numbers from states that run their own exchanges — which include hugely populous behemoths like California and New York. If those states are seeing higher rates of payment, for whatever reason, then the payment rate nationally is actually higher than this. We’ll need to wait and see. If the payment rate in those states isn’t higher then the number of true, paid enrollments nationally is something on the order of 5.36 million, more than two and a half million less than the number Obama’s been waving around. As for the age breakdown among those who paid:

Under 18: six percent;
Ages 18 to 25: 10 percent;
26 to 34: 15 percent;
35 to 44: 16 percent;
45 to 54: 23 percent;
55 to 64: 29 percent;
65 and older: 1 percent.

That’s not disastrous for the White House, I think. They’ve got 31 percent overall who are paid up aged 34 or younger; I remember reading somewhere that they could probably function reasonably well as long as there are no fewer than 25 percent of “young invincibles” in the risk pool. It’s probably also true that young adults are overrepresented among the one-third of sign-ups who haven’t paid yet. Logically, older people who need insurance more desperately than younger people do will be scrupulous about making their payments on time to guarantee that the coverage is in effect. If the White House can do something to give young deadbeats more time (and incentive) to make their payments, they can probably tilt the risk pool a bit younger than it is right now. Which means those grace periods for payment that insurers have extended are likely to be extended quite a bit longer.

Exit question: How many of 2.45 million paid enrollees on the federal exchange were previously uninsured?

Update: Pretty much, yeah.