HHS official: We have no idea how many people have paid their first month’s ObamaCare premium
POSTED AT 5:21 PM ON JANUARY 16, 2014 BY ALLAHPUNDIT
Of course they don’t, silly. How would they? They haven’t built that part of the site yet.
As of a week ago, Bob Laszewski’s best guess based on his chats with friends in the industry was 50 percent. The feds probably have some inkling of the actual number, not from Healthcare.gov but from trying to reconcile their data on O-Care enrollees with the data various insurers have. The whole point of building the website was to avert the need for that; someone would sign up on Healthcare.gov, they’d make payment through the site, the info and money would be automatically forwarded to the insurer, and the conveyor belt would keep moving. As it is, with glitchy files still being transmitted on the back end, both sides have to compare notes periodically via a laborious reconciliation process to make sure they have the same information. Checking payments is just one facet of that, but a long and important one — as noted in the clip, until the feds know that you’ve ponied up for your premiums, they can’t get things moving for you on subsidies.
Which reminds me: If you read only one story today about enrollees struggling with premiums, skip the stuff about the website and check out what a young Obama fan told TPMabout having to pay 300 bucks a month for his new coverage. I’m not sure what the takeaway is — that coverage under the Affordable Care Act ain’t so affordable, that young adults need to make better life choices so that they can afford the essentials, or that New York City is basically unlivable for the middle class. Other TPM readers aren’t sure either. I’m going to go with all three.
‘Nothing to see here’: DC’s Obamacare exchange website still glitch-plagued
**Written by Doug Powers
The Obama administration continues to stuff rolled-up socks down the front of the ACA enrollment trousers for artificial enhancement of the numbers, and much of the mainstream press can always be counted on to help them sell the claimswithout question:
What the administration isn’t passing along (or the media in many cases fails to demand from them) is how many of those “enrollments” have actually paid and are covered:
Heidi Moore, U.S. finance and eonomics editor at The Guardian, tells us in the accompanying video that Obamacare has a two-step sign up process — applicants sign up through the government-run exchanges, but then have to connect with the insurance companies separately to pay.“A lot of people aren’t taking that second step,” explains Moore. “They’re not going to the insurer because they’re not fully informed. Insurers are finding they’re ending up with a lot more applications than payments. [At the end of last week and into this week] if those insurers don’t receive their payments, the people who spent all that time signing up won’t be covered at all.”
Naturally the people who haven’t paid are being lumped into the “covered” number. What’s the real number of people who are actually covered? We won’t find out before this year’s election, that’s for sure.
Also, the Affordable Care Act is so “affordable” that 79 percent of those who have purchased a plan are receiving financial assistance. So, if you opposed Obamacare from the start, the new promise is “if you don’t like somebody else’s plan, you get to pay for somebody else’s plan.” And that promise will not be broken.
Yesterday, Kathleen Sebelius had this piece of disingenuous information:
Obamacare Enrollment Explained In Three Charts
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 01/13/2014 18:50 -0500
By now the distinction that "enrollment" in Obamacare does not actually mean coverage should be painfully clear: one still has to pay, and according to a recent analysis up to 50% of "enrollees" in any given state have not paid, which means the White House's number of 2.1 million sign ups through December 28 is vastly overstating the reality (especially if one ignores the 5+ million of torn up, lost insurance policies as a result of Obamacare). But even if one clearly delineates what is meant by "enrollment" in the most epic failure of a ponzi scheme to ever emerge from a developed nation (with a recently disclosed penchant for Big Brother-yness), what conclusions can one draw about the current participants in obligatory, socialized insurance as most recently disclosed by the administration? Here is the summary:only 24% of all new insured are in the targeted 28-34 age group; only 21% of participants will get no subsidy (which means 79% will be subsidized), and finally more women (54%) than men have signed up.
The above in charts, with commentary from Bloomberg:
About 30 percent of new enrollees are under 35. White House officials say that’s an acceptable mix, and they expect more young people to come on board closer to the March 31 deadline. “We think that more and more young people are going to sign up as time goes by, based on the experience in Massachusetts,” Gary Cohen, deputy administrator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, said on a conference call with reporters. “We’re actually very pleased with the percentage that we have right now, and we expect that percentage to increase.”
Most of the people who bought coverage on the exchanges this fall got subsidies to help them afford the premiums. That’s in contrast to the first month of the program, when less than one-third of buyers were subsidized. People earning up to four times the poverty rate—as much as $96,000 a year for a family of four—can get help buying coverage.
The numbers released today don’t count people who bought health plans off the exchanges. Given the website’s technical problems, people buying insurance who earn too much for subsidies may have bypassed healthcare.gov entirely and purchased plans from brokers or directly from insurance companies. The government doesn’t yet have data on how many people got coverage directly.
Under Obamacare, insurers can’t charge men and women different rates—or, as Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius put it, “Starting in 2014, being a woman is no longer a preexisting condition.” That generally resulted in lower prices for women compared with insurance markets where underwriting by gender is allowed, so it’s not surprising women signed up in greater numbers.
Uh oh: Just 24% of ObamaCare sign-ups so far are young adults
POSTED AT 5:21 PM ON JANUARY 13, 2014 BY ALLAHPUNDIT
HHS was aiming for … 39 percent, notes Philip Klein. As you know, the fewer “young healthies” there are on the exchanges to subsidize expensive treatments for sick people with their premium dollars, the less sustainable those exchanges become. HHS has two and a half months left to hit its target, but as Klein notes, if you assume five million total enrollments by March 31st, fully half at this point would need to come from young adults to hit the 39 percent threshold.
Which is to say, your premiums are probably going up next year. But you knew that.
People signing up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s federal and state marketplaces tend to be older and potentially less healthy, officials said Monday, a demographic mix that could cause premiums to rise in the future if the pattern persists…“We’re pleased to see such a strong response and heavy demand,” said Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services. “Among young adults, the momentum was particularly strong.”Officials for the first time released basic demographic information about the people signing up for insurance. Of those who signed up in the first three months, 55 percent are age 45 to 64, officials said. Only 24 percent of those choosing a health insurance plan are 18 to 34, a group that is usually healthier and needs fewer costly medical services. People 55 to 64 – just below the age at which people qualify for Medicare — represented the largest group, at 33 percent.
No surprise, really. Humana, an insurance giant, warned last week that it “expects the risk mix of members enrolling through the health insurance exchanges to be more adverse than previously expected.” If their numbers are tilting old and sick, everyone else’s must be too. Two obvious caveats, though. One: There’s every reason to expect a crush of enrollments from young adults before the March 31st deadline. Most sick people will have already signed up by then and there’ll be renewed media coverage about the mandate penalty in the weeks approaching deadline. As word trickles out through the mostly ignorant target population, some chunk of young adults will respond by signing up at the last minute. The demographic mix will get better. So much better as to hit 39 percent, though? Two: According to experts, missing HHS’s target of 39 percent enrollment by “young healthiest” wouldn’t be a total disaster. According to Kaiser, a 25 percent enrollment rate would drive costs up for insurers by 2.5 percent but would still give them a narrow profit margin. (Another expert thinks costs would increase 3.5 percent under that scenario, which means insurers really need something closer to 30 percent enrollment by young adults.) That’s bad news for you and me, since we know who’ll be on the hook for those costs, but nothing so dangerous to the industry that it would jeopardize its stability.
Bob Laszewski, meanwhile, takes a long-term approach to this problem. The important number isn’t enrollment as of March 31st, he says, it’s enrollment as of, say, 2016. That’s when the “risk corridor” (i.e. bailout) provisions of O-Care sunset and that’s when we’ll really know if the law’s sustainable without federal largesse.
I think we’re going to ultimately need about 20 million people for a sustainable pool. It doesn’t need to be this year. That’s what the transitional risk corridors are all about. But it needs to happen in the first few years. So when I hear people talk about the goal being seven million, I think, “time out.” This needs to be 20 million people within three years.The problem with the enrollments today is that they’re so small, it’s less than 10 percent of the uninsured coming in, it really can’t be anything but sick people. So if it’s going to be sustainable you need loads of people coming in the door. So when I judge where Obamacare is on December 31st or March 31st, I want to have confidence that this thing is ramping up to 20 million. I want to see momentum.
They’ve signed up a little more than 500,000 young adults so far. If Laszewski’s right about a pool of 20 million uninsured to make this thing float, that means the feds need more than seven million more “young healthies” over the next three years. He thinks the individual mandate has been so weakened that it’s destined for waiver or repeal, but I don’t know: The more desperate the White House gets for young adults to sign up, the more it’s going to want that mandate bludgeon to keep the pressure on them to sign up. (The mandate penalty becomes considerably more expensive starting next year, remember.) There’s no political class in America that can be taken for granted as easily as young voters. Why do them a favor by lifting the mandate?
Another good question:
As of Thursday, Laszewski was hearing from industry sources that only 50 percent of new enrollees have paid so far. It’s true that some insurers have pushed their payment deadlines back to the end of the month to give people more time, but not all have — and if we’re still at 50 percent a third of the way through, how many can we reasonably expect will make good on their first month’s premium by the end of the month, realistically? Maybe 85 percent? 90? If the latter, we’re talking about more than 200,000 people nationally who’ll have missed the payment deadline, which means insurers will then have to decide whether to extend the payment deadline into February(!) or start canceling coverage for new customers they’d much rather keep. And all of that is on top of sorting through glitchy applicant data from Healthcare.gov, which Laszewski estimates still represents roughly five percent of total online applications. January’s going to be a long month.