Insurers loosen payment deadlines for ACA plans

Insurers are voluntarily offering flexible payment deadlines for customers who purchase insurance through the federal marketplace, America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) said in a statement.

"Our community wants to do everything we can to make sure consumers have greater peace of mind about their healthcare coverage and to support them throughout the open enrollment process," AHIP President and CEO Karen Ignagni said.

The flexibility will apply to January premiums so that those who made changes to their Affordable Care Act coverage during the recent open enrollment will receive benefits on Jan. 1, 2015. Grace periods vary among insurers.

Premiums are typically due Dec. 31 for a Jan. 1 start date, Fortune reported. But that cuts it close. The Dec. 15 deadline leaves insurers with a little more than two weeks to process a large amount of data on new customers from the government insurance exchange, the article said.

Insurers volunteered to delay last year's payment deadline as well, though that was largely due to's technical problems. The extended deadline was initially set as Jan. 10, but processing problems led insurers to further delay payment deadlines, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

This year's announcement is more of a "safety valve," the Associated Press reported, to make sure that the process of enrolling new customers and automatically re-enrolling existing customers goes smoothly.

As of Dec. 12, nearly 2.5 million Americans have signed up for coverage on the federal insurance exchange, according to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services statement. Roughly 48 percent are new customers, while the other 52 percent are customers interested in renewing coverage.

For more:
- here's the AHIP statement
- read the Fortune article
- read the AP article
- here's the HHS statement