Mystery remains over how many enrollees paid their premiums

The dispute over how many exchange consumers have paid their premiums continues. A House Committee report released Wednesday said 67 percent of enrollees had paid their first month's premiums as of April 15, reports Insurance Networking News. Yet the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services claimed 80 percent to 90 percent of enrollees have paid their premiums.

The White House on Thursday reiterated that last-minute efforts by individuals to enroll mean many people have not received notices to pay their premiums. "Let's begin with the fact that the committee says they looked at who paid by April 15," White House spokesman Jay Carney said, "but as you know ... there was a tremendous surge in enrollments at the end of the process," reports the Christian Science Monitor.

These numbers contradict claims from early April that estimated most enrollees in health insurance exchanges already paid their first premium payments, FierceHealthPayer previously reported. It's difficult for federal health officials to gauge exactly how many individuals have paid because consumers pay insurers directly after their enrollment is complete.

What's more, the House's report covered only 150 insurance carriers, noted U.S. Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Erin Shields Britt. "These claims are based on only about half of the approximately 300 issuers in the federally-facilitated marketplace and they do not match up with public comments from insurance companies themselves, most of which indicate that 80 percent to 90 percent of enrollees have paid their premium," she said in a statement, according to MarketWatch.

Insurers also point out that the House looked only at the federal exchange when accumulating the numbers, and not the state-run programs in 16 states and the District of Columbia. It's also possible the House may have overlooked those who had not yet received payment notices, according to MarketWatch.

The House expects to request an update around May 20, notes Insurance Networking News.

For more:
- read the Insurance Networking News article
- here's the Christian Science Monitor piece
- check out the Market Watch story