HHS: 3.3 Million Now Enrolled Through Obamacare
By Dr. James Palermo // February 14, 2014
ENROLLMENT QUESTIONS, WEBSITE TROUBLE PERSIST
ABOVE VIDEO: Stuart Varney on FOX News’ American Newsroom reports on the ACA enrollment numbers recently released by the Obama administration.
After four months of open enrollment, with the disastrous implementation of Healthcare.gov and no national database of who is uninsured, has enrolled, paid their premium and has active coverage through the Afforable Care Act’s (ACA, aka Obamacare) healthcare exchange marketplace, it is literally impossible to get accurate data related to the number of previously uninsured people who have actually taken advantage of buying insurance through the ACA.
Information released to date by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) suggests that 3.3 million people have signed up for private insurance plans through the ACA’s exchanges, and another 6 million people have signed up for Medicaid since they could start enrolling in the health law’s expansion of the public program.
However, the data related to “new” Medicaid members isn’t currently being broken down into the number between a Medicaid enrollee who gained coverage due to Obamacare and an enrollee who met previous criteria and would have signed up for Medicaid regardless of the health-care law.
Each time the Obama administration publishes new Obamacare enrollment numbers, they seem to create more questions than answers.
A couple of the lingering questions related to ACA enrollment and the website’s ability to address its exasperating problems that have left many potential enrollees in the lurch were addressed in New York Times and USA Today articles this morning.
INSURERS: MORE THAN 20% OF ACA ENROLLEES FAILED TO PAY PREMIUMS
The New York Times reports that, according to insurers, “one in five people who signed up for health insurance under the new health care law failed to pay their premiums on time and therefore did not receive coverage in January.”
The Times says that following “the chaotic debut of the federal marketplace and many state exchanges, the White House urged insurers to give people more time,” but “some people missed even the extended deadlines.”
According to the Times article, Blue Shield of California says “80 percent of the people who signed up for its plans had paid by the company’s due date,” while Aetna “said that about 70 percent of people who signed up for its health plans paid their premiums,” and 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.”
There are any number of reasons that enrollees may not be paying premiums. Some may have changed their minds and decided they did not want a health plan for which they had applied, others never received an invoice from the insurance company, or received it late, and, to complicate the process even more, phone lines of some health plans were overwhelmed.
Obama administration officials said they did not know how many people signing up for coverage had paid their premiums because the government had not finished building the “back end” of the computer systems needed to pay insurers.
HEALTHCARE.GOV REMAINS PROBLEMATIC FOR MANY SEEKING COVERAGE
USA Today reports that “many consumers who have waited months to resolve insurance application issues on HealthCare.gov are finally getting help, but some are still stuck in limbo without Medicaid or insurance coverage, and many of the site’s most vexing problems remain.”
According to USA Today, those seeking help complain about “clueless customer service representatives,” while “insurers report the files they get about enrollments still sometimes can’t be matched with clients” and “Medicaid-eligible people who have been bounced back and forth from HealthCare.gov to states are now being told just to enroll through their states.”
The exact number of people who are awaiting answers to application questions and/or resolution of application matters that are in dispute is unclear. However, Aaron Albright, a spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, says many of the 22,000 people who have filed appeals of their subsidy or coverage determinations should have their problems addressed by the new enrollment situation fixes that are now being executed. (Pear, New York Times, 2/14; O’Donnell, USA Today, 2/14)