General Question

Aster's avatar

Not just signing up (7M) but how many have paid for Obamacare?

Asked by Aster (15474 points ) April 3rd, 2014

I heard Obama raving over the seven million Americans who have signed up for Obamacare. But on the news some commentators say , “true; but how many have paid their first premium?”
Does anybody know? Will we ever know?

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35 Answers

jaytkay's avatar

You could go to Blue Cross and ask how many of their new enrollees have paid and you could not get a definite answer today.

The premiums are paid to many, many different insurance companies and few of the payments for recent enrollees would even be processed by now.

But of course, people without any numbers or facts who hate Obama will take every opportunity to throw doubt and misinformation into the discourse.

What they have to say isn’t informative, useful, honest, or interesting.

Aster's avatar

Well, I thought it was informative and interesting when Obama said 7 million people have signed up. And I will find it just as informative when we find out how many have paid. Finally, I think Obama will also find it important how many have paid when he announces that number.
I wouldn’t expect anyone to know how long it took people to pay their premium on Blue Cross since it’s slightly older of a company.

bolwerk's avatar

I don’t really know when insurance companies bill end users, or if they all bill the same way or it might vary depending on the state. Many enrollees are presumably are paid for by the state and won’t pay a premium directly, of course.

johnpowell's avatar

There must be some sort of conspiracy here.

It will probably be around the number of people that forget or can’t pay their electric bill.

Oh, Fox News narrative.

Cruiser's avatar

Blue Cross Blue Shield says 80–85% of enrollees are not paying….what is more frustrating is the leader of the ACA Katherine Sebeluis doesn’t know how many have paid. Mind boggling that the person in charge of such an epic undertaking of historical proportions at this stage of the game doesn’t know a thing about how many have paid.

johnpowell's avatar

I got a plan through the ACA via CoverOregon. I have not been billed yet. Any link to the 80–85% number?

BhacSsylan's avatar

Try it the other way around, Cruiser, your ideology is affecting your eyes. BCBS has said 80–85% are paying. And considering that these payments are going to private companies and do not have any route through the HHS office, there’s no reason Sibelius would know yet.

And more on point, also from BCBS, “Paying a first premium is the final step in enrollment and our Plans set their deadlines for payment individually and it will vary across the Blue system. Therefore, there won’t be a final number of who has paid for some time.” One can assume this also applies generally to different insurers.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Aster You are aware that “Obamacare” is not a government agency that sends out bills, aren’t you? The ACA is a law that organizes private, for-profit insurance companies into groups where individuals go shop for the plan they want.

I’m not sure I understand the point of this question.

Cruiser's avatar

Ooops @BhacSsylan You are correct…BCBS did say 81–85% are paying. I am on spring break and apparently so is my brain! Thanks for catching that goof of mine. I want to ask you, we have Sebelius as the leader of this whole Obama care exchange… Sebluis HAS to have all the Health insures on speed dial. If BCBS can tell some reporter that 81–85% are paying…..why is she so clueless to these very important details.

I for one don’t buy it that she doesn’t know these details. What is also being omitted from the “details” is that only 10 states are reporting payment figures and who knows what all the other states are doing. This monster disconnect is further example of the ineptitude of those behind this whole Obamacare from inception to start up. All she has to do is make a dozen or so phone calls to find out the numbers…my 14 yr old could do this.

Saying I don’t know about what my Insurance vendors are doing to support these exchanges is beyond nuts…I run a business and know to the penny what my vendors are charging me, what inventories they carry for me and all the other details that tell me they are doing the job I expect them to do to support the needs of my company. And to excuse Sebelius from not knowing how many have paid for the policies her website has allowed people to sign up for is just sad, pathetic and inept and that includes anyone who is giving her a free pass on this.

MarcoDemarco's avatar

“Change is hard”

For me that was the most piercing, resounding part of his 7M speech. It points at a deeply rooted fact about each and every one of us, and about society. Not just this society, but every society in every nation that we’ve ever heard of.

This simple fact should be common knowledge, it’s something we should all keep in mind about ourselves, and about or society.

But we don’t.

Losing weight is a change. Who’s ever had an smooth, easy transition from being fat to being skinny. It’s a struggle with our desires, our habits, and against something new and different.

There’s never been a nationwide policy change that went smoothly. There’s always going to be opposers, haters, ranters.

This is what change looks like, even when it’s for the better.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Cruiser Why should the Secretary of HHS monitor the cash flow of private insurance companies? These companies are not providing any service to the Dept. of HHS. They are providing a product for the people who bought insurance.

BhacSsylan's avatar

A dozen or so phone calls? You realize there are at least a dozen companies per state, right? Even the head of BCBS has stated that they don’t have the final figures yet for their own company, and gave the reasons! I love how you are now expecting Sibelius to monitor private companies better than they are able to do themselves, without any ability monitor their cashflow.

Also, one of the reason the Seblius is keeping quiet is they have to be sure of their numbers, lest people like you jump down their throat because it’s slightly off from a a projection (see also, Faux News). Which is all it is right now since not all payments are due. Why don’t you just wait and let the deadlines actually hit, hmm?

Aster's avatar

@Cruiser hasn’t said she should monitor anything.

Cruiser's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake She is the lady in charge of this ACA. We were promised it was supposed to bring affordable insurance policies, and we will be able to keep our doctors. So people bought into this and they built the website, turned it on and are you suggesting they now just walk away from their responsibility? Me I think they are still on the job and need to provide transparency that what they promised is being delivered and all it will take is a dozen or so phone calls. I don’t know doesn’t cut in my book especially at the level of importance this ACA is.

I think it is insane not to question the lack of details.

BhacSsylan's avatar

I would love to know where your favorite ‘dozen phone calls’ line is coming from. Anyway, you should also know that the deadline is not even fully passed yet. Those that attempted to get insured but haven’t finished have until April 15th to finish the process. So, no, I don’t question the ’‘lack of details” when the relevant info doesn’t even exist yet.

Cruiser's avatar

@BhacSsylan At least they have figures! Admitting that 81–85% of their ACA enrollees is real solid information and you are trying to give Sebelius a free pass by saying she has no way to offer up any clue as to the number of people paying for ACA? I don’t know you at all but you lack of sense and sensibility on the smoke and mirrors at play here is a bit telling. You may be content with “I don’t know” but in my world you would get a great big fat Donald Trump style “you’re fired”!

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Cruiser I have read plenty of information in reputable news outlets about the affordability of the policies introduced by the ACA. I’m not going to search for sources right now, because I don’t really care about this particular question.

What is the responsibility of the HHS you say they are walking away from?

It’s not the job of the Dept. of HHS to monitor whether or not individuals have health insurance. That job now falls on the IRS, and they won’t begin monitoring that until 2015.

This question truly puzzles me. What am I misunderstanding?

The ACA has provided affordable health insurance for all people who live and work in the US. Millions who could not purchase any health insurance before are now able to. Many previously denied coverage now have it.

The deadline for coverage for 2014 passed 3 days ago. Why do we need to know today how many people have paid their insurance bill?

Can someone explain to me why knowing how many people have paid their bill is vital information? That is an honest question. I don’t get it.

canidmajor's avatar

I think this question is extremely premature. The individual companies with whom the enrollees have signed will probably bill on their regular billing schedules, not necessarily the minute every enrollee confirms the sign-up. Then, there is the predictable lag before those bills are paid, then time for mail delivery, processing etc etc etc. Accurate numbers could be months in the tallying.

CWOTUS's avatar

It’s an appropriate question, @Hawaii_Jake, because if people don’t pay their bills then they won’t have insurance, whether the law says they should or not.

I’m looking for the link that explains “of the 7 million ‘new enrollees’, how many of them are the 5–6 million whose former insurance was cancelled”, and who are now still attempting to find and pay for compliant plans. It seems to me that there are still fewer than a million “brand new enrollees” who were the nominal “uninsured” targets of the law as it was passed.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Thank you, @CWOTUS, but that doesn’t demystify this particular question for me. I understand perfectly well that if the bill isn’t paid, the individual is not insured. It is not the job of the Dept. of HHS to monitor compliance. That duty now falls to the IRS who will not be checking this information until 2015.

Also, the OP has never answered my question about whether she knows “Obamacare” is not a government agency sending out bills.

BhacSsylan's avatar

@Cruiser BCBS can give projections all they want, because they won’t get skewered by media outlets if their numbers are a little bit off. And you are asking Sibelius to put together projections, all of which have probably at least a 5–10% error at best (and still, projections, not data), from hundreds of companies, only days after the open enrollment ended, before the full deadline, and before many bills have even been sent. How exactly do you expect this to be in the least bit accurate or useful?

@CWOTUS you should poke around a bit more. The number of previously uninsured looks to be about 9.5 million, at least by the LA Times’ reckoning. This is also including those now covered by medicare, which is a very large chunk not counted by the 7.1 new exchange enrollees, but it looks like about a third of the 7.1 were uninsured previously, and that the real number of those cancelled was less than a million. The 5–6 million number was a previous estimate.

Aster's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake you were right. I didn’t know that. lol

Cruiser's avatar

@BhacSsylan I am not asking or expecting Sebelius to put together more “projections”...we have been force fed projections that don’t match for over 5 years now….a quick dozen or more phone calls to the top health insurance providers will enable her to go on record with real numbers and facts that IMO would be much more valid than “I don’t know”....Seriously.

BhacSsylan's avatar

Considering that all that the BCBP head himself is offering is an estimate with a large margin of error, that he himself has said “Therefore, there won’t be a final number of who has paid for some time”, you’re being completely unreasonable and blind to the fact that the data does not currently exist. You are refusing to see that it’s unreasonable to demand numbers that literally are impossible to give, because you simply cannot give up demonizing this administration. I’m done here.

Cruiser's avatar

@BhacSsylan I am more than frustrated by the lack of numbers offered by both the government and the Insurance providers and stated so many times over so far in my replies here. You are free to be OK with an incompetent government squandering your hard earned tax dollars…but yours or anyone’s defense of this lack of transparency and ineptitude makes no sense to me.

augustlan's avatar

From my personal experience: I got my husband insured through the ACA exchange website near the end of March. We just received the bill for the first payment from the insurance company, and it’s not due until the end of April. We plan to pay it next week, but I’m assuming a whole shitload of people won’t pay any earlier than the end of the month, and possibly not before mid-May, given the extension.

Wealthadvisor's avatar

The biggest problem with the ACA is the misunderstanding of how insurance works. Congress understands the rules, but forgot to take into consideration the actions of the people buying insurance.

I have been a Certified Financial Planner since 1988 and have had dealings with many clients on the subject of health insurance.

Here are the major misunderstandings:

1. People with private health insurance do not always keep the same policy their entire life. Some find jobs and drop private insurance for company provided insurance.

2. Some people pay the first premium and then cancel because they have found a better deal elsewhere, have been able to get insurance through a spouse’s place of work, or just change their mind.

3. Younger people have too many distractions, (new car, new TV, new clothes, etc.,) and just decide they can use the money better elsewhere and will take a chance on the health insurance. Many of the penalty rules have been so diluted, there is now very little teeth in that part of the law.

So, it really does not matter how many signed up. It will be how many will have the insurance a year from now? How many will have the insurance six months from now? I have had many young families make multiple changes to their life insurance, health insurance, car insurance, and most have no disability insurance. I have had clients buy health and life insurance and then use the free look option to find other coverage.

There will be those who the plan will help. Especially those with pre-existing conditions. But there will be those who never pay that second premium, or keep the plan for a long period of time.

There never really will be a final number because the number will be forever changing. They can give you an exact number for one day, but the next day the number will be totally different.

Cruiser's avatar

@Wealthadvisor What is being focused on is how many signed up and how many paid. What I want to know is how many signed up and paid who never had insurance coverage before. My guess would be very few percentage wise as AFAICT the bulk of the people signing up on the exchanges had insurance that was canceled because of the ACA requirements.

Before this all started there were 40 million people with no health insurance, many by choice….where are all of them today? Why do we not have over 40 million signed up? I thought this was the law? Are 33 million people breaking the law?

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Cruiser A lot of them are now covered through Medicaid, as others have pointed out here.

A lot of people (particularly in red states) are being actively discouraged by groups funded by the Koch brothers from signing up with either Obamacare or Medicaid – these people are being encouraged to act against their own interests (sadly and predictably) for their leaders’ political gain. The success that Kentucky is having with enrollment numbers could be repeated in any or all of those states.

Then finally, you have states like Florida, where the governors are making sure that Medicaid is not extended to all the people it should be, leaving large numbers of people unable to afford Obamacare premiums, but incredibly, not covered by Medicaid either. This is the fault… again… of the Republican governors in those states, who refuse to take the funds necessary to expand Medicaid.

But I don’t expect you to believe any of these facts. They’ve been repeated here on Fluther many, many times. Either you’re capable of hearing it, or you’re not.

And yes, not signing up for Obamacare if you are obligated to do so is breaking the law. So those people will be fined through their taxes.

Cruiser's avatar

@dappled_leaves If a lot of them are now covered my Medicare then why this big hubabaloo over creating the ACA and exchanges? We spent over a billion dollars on a website to do something people could and should have done all along and a majority of the rest already had health care? Seems pretty insane to spend $143,000 per person just to sign them up and try to sell it as a fine noble accomplishment. Absurd.

Wealthadvisor's avatar

No, you are not obligated to sign up for the ACA if you have access to health insurance elsewhere. That was my point. If you signed up and two months later got a job, you do not have to keep the insurance you bought through the ACA. You can drop that coverage and sign up for insurance through work.

If you look at all the exemptions for paying the penalty, there are not as many that will pay the penalty as first predicted.

http://obamacarefacts.com/obamacare-mandate-exemption-penalty.php

And, as to how many have signed up who have never had coverage before:

http://www.gallup.com/poll/168248/uninsured-rate-lowest-2008.aspx

Again, we will never know the exact number because it will change from day to day.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Cruiser About the healthcare.gov web site, you wrote, “We spent over a billion dollars on a website…” That is patently false.

It cost only $70 million. Source

One billion dollars is an enormous number you made up in your head.

Wealthadvisor's avatar

Through October, the total spent so far is $319 million with projected costs of close to $700 million and climbing.

http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/health-reform-implementation/192761-healthcaregov-costs-at-677m-through-october

Cruiser's avatar

@Wealthadvisor I heard that figure as well but what no one is saying is what it has cost to fix the site since Dec.

Wealthadvisor's avatar

Not to mention what it has cost all the states to build their sites. Maryland spent $120 million and just gave up on fixing it. They are now going with the software from Connecticut for another $70 million.

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