Insurers: Up to 90% of premiums paid

Up to 90 percent of exchange enrollees have paid their first premiums, major insurers told a congressional panel yesterday. However, they also noted many of the 8 million consumers who signed up through the health insurance exchanges include duplicate enrollments, potentially shattering one of the highlighted achievements of the Affordable Care Act.

"Because of the challenges that surfaced with the launch of the exchanges in October 2013, some consumers were advised to create a new account and enroll again," Mark Pratt, a senior vice president of America's Health Insurance Plans, told the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. "As a result, insurers have many duplicate enrollments in their system for which they never received any payment."

Pratt added it may take months "before insurers know how many people activated their coverage by paying their share of premiums."

In the meantime, major insurers told the House panel that most of the new enrollees have paid their premiums. Aetna said it enrolled 600,000 members through the exchanges, and about 500,000 of them already have paid. That puts its payment rate "in the low- to mid-80 percent range," Paul Wingle, Aetna's executive director of exchange operations and strategy, said in his testimony.

WellPoint's Dennis Matheis, president of central region and exchange strategy, said about 70 percent of its new enrollees who signed up during the exchange enrollment period have paid their premiums. That number jumps to 90 percent, however, for new members whose payment deadlines already passed. "We are seeing strong membership growth and large percentages of our newly enrolled customers are successfully paying their premiums by the due date," Matheis said.

J. Darren Rodgers, the chief marketing officer of the Health Care Service Corporation, said the insurer gained about 600,000 new exchange members and about 85 percent of them have paid their premiums.

The numbers vary because insurers have different deadlines for premium payments and don't always enforce their own deadlines. For example, WellPoint requires payment by the 10th of each month, while Aetna asks for premiums to be paid the day before coverage begins, Bloomberg reported.

But some industry analysts say the exact numbers don't matter because the overall enrollment data proves the success of the ACA, the article noted.

To learn more:
- read the House hearing testimony
- see the Bloomberg article