Majority of first premiums already paid

Insurer estimates suggest most enrollees (80 percent to 90 percent) in the health insurance exchanges already have made their first premium payments.

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius made that statement during an interview (video) with Oklahoma City station KWTV-TV. "What we know from insurance companies ... tell(s) us that, for their initial customers, it's somewhere between 80, 85, some say as high as 90 percent, have paid so far," she said,

That means the total enrollment number is closer to 5 million than the federal government's claim of 6 million enrollees as of last week, The Washington Post reported.

Experts have estimated 20 percent of consumers signed up for the online marketplaces haven't paid their premiums. Sebelius's comments fall in line with those predictions.

Sebelius also implied the number could even be higher, adding "lots of companies have different timetables for when their new customers have to send their first payment."

HHS, however, doesn't currently have access to enrollees' premium payment status because consumers pay insurers directly after their enrollment is complete. To rectify this gap, HHS is building a system to track enrollees who have made premium payments and would establish a communication line with payers to report ACA enrollment figures accurately, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

To learn more:
- watch the KWTV video
- read The Washington Post article