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U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius testifies before a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the failures of the Affordable Care Act enrollment website on Capitol Hill in Washington, October 30, 2013.    REUTERS/Jason Re
House Republicans, and some insurance companies, are disputing the White House's numbers on Obamacare enrollments. The White House says 4.2 million have signed up through February, with an additional 4.4 qualifying for Medicaid. Not so fast, say critics, because they're counting people who have selected plans, not people who have already paid their first premium. That's the first part of the dispute. The second part, of course, is whether the White House even has access to information from insurance companies to determine how many people have actually started paying. The White House says no, big insurance companies and Republicans say it does.
The latest administration figures show that 4.2 million people have selected health plans in the new insurance markets. Insurance industry officials at four of the big national health plans tell POLITICO that about 15 to 20 percent people who have signed up have not yet paid their first monthly premium — the final step to get coverage. […]

That contention prompted Republicans on Capitol Hill to launch an inquiry Thursday to determine how many Obamacare sign-ups are actually paying. House Energy and Commerce leaders sent letters to insurers in 36 states requesting details on the total number of customers who have begun paying premiums. […]

The White House insists that industry claims notwithstanding, it can’t provide precise enrollment totals — and may not be able to for months because major, “back end” components of HealthCare.gov are still under construction. Those pieces are supposed to collect data directly from insurers about the number of premium-paying customers on their rolls.

While the biggest national insurers—Aetna, Health Care Services Corp., WellPoint and Blue Shield of California—say they can and have provided that information to the White House, there are hundreds of smaller companies on the exchanges around the country, and the information about just how many people have paid up just isn't available yet.

Right now, this appears to be a tempest in a teapot (gee, who could have imagined that House Republicans would start an inquiry into Obamacare, with the help of big insurance). At the same time, the administration needs to make getting the damned website done already so that this kind of hiccup can't be exploited.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 11:52 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (15+ / 0-)

    "The NSA’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything. [...] There would be no place to hide."--Frank Church

    by Joan McCarter on Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 11:52:27 AM PDT

  •  Twenty years from now, this is going to make.... (8+ / 0-)

    a really interesting book that will leave readers of that era bewildered and shaking their heads; much as the reading of the Civil Rights movement of the 50's and 60's is shocking to readers of today.

    As I expect to still be here by then, I am predicting the GOP taking credit for the ACA by then.

    Tax and Spend I can understand. I can even understand Borrow and Spend. But Borrow and give Billionaires tax cuts? That I have a problem with.

    by LiberalCanuck on Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 12:01:02 PM PDT

    •  Counting is hard. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hassanm, WillR, hmi

      Who could have expected the Administration to want to know this data, not to mention "Did you have any health insurance coverage in the last 12 months? Y or N"

    •  Ted Cruz Jr. will. n/t (0+ / 0-)

      “My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that, and I intend to end up there." - Rumi

      by LamontCranston on Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 05:09:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  What? (0+ / 0-)

      I am paying the same monopolist insurance corporation in my state (Anthem Indiana) twice the premium I paid a year ago for the same health benefits I was paying for last year. How in the world does that equate to my civil rights?

      Also, has it ever occurred to you that this law may be making insurance companies richer and more powerful, not less? Sure, they now can't kick people off of coverage, but they are firmly entrenched sucking more dollars out of the pockets of Americans who have no recourse from either party. I think single payer is now going to be more difficult, not less, due to this law.

      I know the " 60's Civil Rights" card is a reflexive card, but it is a huge stretch in this case imo.

  •  In California "selected a plan" = "enrolled" (0+ / 0-)

    On March 13, the director of Covered California said:  

    insurance companies are reporting that 85 percent of all enrollees have paid their first month’s premium....

    (Oct 1- March 7), online applications were started for an estimated 3,787,569 individuals seeking coverage. In the month of February, 164,870 individuals enrolled in subsidized or unsubsidized coverage through Covered California.

    Enrollment of young adults 18 to 34 years old is trending slightly upward, at 26.5 percent of the consumers who have selected a Covered California health insurance plan....

    Most subsidy-eligible consumers who enrolled in the exchange through Feb. 28 — 515,027, or about 68 percent — signed up for a Silver plan, the second-lowest-costing plan of the four plan tiers. About 86 percent of consumers across all tiers received some sort of financial assistance.
    http://news.coveredca.com/...

    The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right. -- Judge Learned Hand, May 21, 1944

    by ybruti on Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 02:43:19 PM PDT

  •  They have no clue I have been paying for months (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ybruti, cocinero, auapplemac

    I originally tried to go through the exchanges.  But when I hit a roadblock I found my plan there and then signed up with Humana directly.  (Which was no cakewalk either).

    My husband had wanted me to go through the exchange so I would be counted, but I really thought they would count who actually bought those policies, and since, as part of a childless couple, I don't get a subsidy, I prefer to keep my finances to myself.  

    I must be listed as not having signed up since, I keep getting emails and phone calls telling me to come back to the exchange and complete my application.

    p.s. Obamacare sends me chocolate!  I had answered a survey about my difficult experience with the humana website and they just sent me a rather large bar of dark chocolate as an apology.  Seems like they value my business.

  •  Has anybody brought up the example of just how (0+ / 0-)

    "Romneycare" started off, and where it is today?

    Is it that hard?

    Geesh.

    “My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that, and I intend to end up there." - Rumi

    by LamontCranston on Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 05:08:31 PM PDT

  •  It's the ultimate "tipping point" the GOP fears (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cocinero

    Even those tea party House members who lack some gray matter between their ears know that their periodic rallies with supporters could turn against them in their anti healthcare coverage campaign as more people enroll. GOP leadership and their bankers, Koch etal, also appreciate this more keenly than their army of compliant followers. So expect to see more money spent to confuse low information Americans on why they should fear Obamacare. BTW, it's not about providing healthcare for Americans, it's about a Black President.

    It's all about my grandchildren

    by suplehdog on Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 05:12:06 PM PDT

  •  And how about the unborn babies? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cocinero

    That the White House isn't counting in their numbers that will be receiving prenatal care as a result, I mean, isn't that the pro-life argument, that they should all be considered people?  And how do we figure that number in?

    Gandhi's Seven Sins: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Commerce without morality; Science without humanity; Worship without sacrifice; Politics without principle

    by Chris Reeves on Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 05:19:56 PM PDT

  •  How did we ever survive (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bear83

    for 2 million years without websites. It's a mystery...

  •  With due respect... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bear83, RepresentUsPlease

    Look, I don't expect every single diary that I post to be given FP status or to be linked to, and I certainly appreciate any exposure/props that you do give me, but I just posted an exhaustive diary on this exact subject no less than 7 hours ago, and, with due respect, I have earned a bit of credibility on the enrollment number issue...

    Paid/Unpaid? 1/3 of QHP policies won't even start until AFTER March 31st!

  •  Lying down with dogs, getting fleas (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jbad1

    When you design ACA to be run by private insurance companies, you get what you asked for.  No, they won't get good data from insurance companies. Insurance companies have zero incentive to provide any kind of accurate, timely data to the federal government - government is the sucker vendor in this situation.

    Same thing will happen when it comes to any level of financial accountability for tax credits being shoveled into private insurance coffers.  There will be no accountability and we can expect to see a lot of fraud, plenty of problems for the GOP to use against Dems every election.

    Public Option would have avoided all of these problems and provided lower cost insurance to anyone who needed it.  Neolibs are endlessly gullible for every corporate scammer that comes down the road.

    Money is property, not speech. Overturn Citizens United.

    by Betty Pinson on Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 05:38:30 PM PDT

  •  Stupid numbers are hard to grok anyway. (0+ / 0-)

    For example, what do you make of people who are buying insurance to comply with the law but are buying it off the exchanges?

    If you don't expect to get a subsidy, it's likely to be a whole crapload easier to buy that way.

    Young people buying off-exchange affect the risk distribution just as much as those buying on-exchange.  

    Those are Obamacare sign-ups even if the term never comes up.

    The hard part is knowing how many of them would have bought insurance anyway, and even that can be extrapolated from past experience.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 05:45:51 PM PDT

  •  I'm not sure the website is the issue (0+ / 0-)
    At the same time, the administration needs to make getting the damned website done already so that this kind of hiccup can't be exploited.
    Insurers are building systems to transmit member and claims data to the feds for the for the dreaded 3 Rs part of the ACA - Risk Adjustment, Reinsurance, and Risk Corridors. This is the "Big Insurance Bailout" to the GOP, and a $8 billion windfall for the government to the reality-based world.

    There's a tremendous amount of data, and since every insurer has their own set of back office systems that collect and retain the data, it has to be transformed before it is sent in a common format to the feds.

    Is HHS behind on getting all the final requirements set? Yes. But it's not as if big insurance is ready either.

    Election Day is Nov 4th, 2014 It's time for the Undo button on the 2010 Election.

    by bear83 on Fri Mar 14, 2014 at 05:49:53 PM PDT

  •  I do not think there are the resources available (0+ / 0-)

    to serve all Americans who want and need health care delivered in a decent manner.  No, we can't have everyone sign up yesterday, today and tomorrow.  The health care system we have is  the best and worst of what is possible.  The most expensive health care in the world, too bad it isn't also the best that money could buy.  A great cathedral takes many gererations of builders and dreamer-seekers to construct.  Our present health care system is not like a catherdral in progress which it should be, but more like the many headed, devouring Hydra than a fortress which protects our mortal body.

  •  of course they have access (0+ / 0-)

    If they don't how are they auditing the numbers?

  •  Another problem (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hmi

    My premium doubled from Anthem in my state-Indiana. So, I went to the Marketplace hoping to get a better deal. The bronze plan premium/deductible/out of pocket was similar to what I currently have and the premium was no better. than the double premium cost of my new plan that is set to kick in in  July.  And guess what insurance company offered the bronze plan at the Marketplace? Anthem Indiana.

    I see this as a handout to Anthem, with no benefits to me that I cared about. The entire idea that this is a "Marketplace" is a joke, at least for me in Indiana.

    A long time ago Obama should have told people that, in some instances their premiums were going to be higher, by a lot. Personally, I feel like I've been blindsided and I am not happy.

  •  I find it hard to imagine (0+ / 0-)

    That only 4million have signed up, I would make a bet that the number is closer to 7 million.  If the deadline is the end of the month the number would be too low at just 4 million,  amazing what the right wing media wants the average citizen to think.  

    •  Why do you think the numbers are different? (0+ / 0-)

      Brainwrap has notated every source for every enrollment reported.  If there were 3 million more lying about I'm sure the administration or any other person of power would have dug them up by now.  It is of extreme importance politically for these numbers to be as high as possible. There is no reason at all for them to low ball them.  They would actually have more reason to inflate them.  

  •  Has Anyone Thought To Ask Republicans..... (0+ / 0-)

    what they're going to replace Obamacare with?  They just voted to repeal it in the House for the 52nd time.

    What's their plan?

    What do they have to replace the 3.l MILLION students who remain on their parent's policy now because of the ACA?  What do they have to offer Americans w/ preexisting conditions?  What do they have to close the donut hole the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 (Medicare Part D) brought us?

    What do they have to offer seniors who are now saving an average of $600/yr on their prescription drugs?  What do they have to offer us on preventive care including mammograms & general screening tests for diabetes & elevated cholesterol?  What do they have on community health centers, caregiver grants etc etc etc?

    They......got......nothing!  Their latest proposal dumped 1 MILLION Americans off their healthcare plans & would cost us $76 BILLION dollars over the next 10 years according to
    the CBO.  After that, they slunk away w/ their crappy plan & their
    skanky tails between their saggy, old man haunches.  They haven't been heard of since except for their ridiculous, costly 52nd repeal vote.

  •  And, the GOP completely leaves out (0+ / 0-)

    the over 3 million young people who have been able to stay on their parent's policy until age 26.  That is huge and doesn't seem attract any kudos.  

  •  here we go again (0+ / 0-)

    the chicago mafia are making up the numbers, do i hate the republicans, does a bear defecate in the woods.

    save america defeat all republicans and conservatives

  •  How many have made their first premium payment? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ELW22

    The insurance companies will know and report their data by July or August. A person who purchased a policy the last two weeks of February is buying a policy with an effective date of 1 April 2014. I don't know of any Conservative who would pay their monthly mortgage six weeks before the due date. I purchased an ACA policy on January 20th with an effective date of March 1st. I made the first payment on February 25th five weeks after I was approved by Blue Cross Blue Shield. This is a GOP talking point that people haven't paid their first months premium.

  •  It's complicated (0+ / 0-)

    I spent a whole career working between the public and private health care sectors.  I have watch this dance of collecting data needed by the public side of health care from the private side of it for a number of decades.  It is always cumbersome and difficult.  Hell, its difficult for two private companies to try and hook into each others computer system in order to share data.  I made a good living helping private health insurers meet government data requirements for the money they got by covering Medicare and Medicaid clients.  It is just plain not easy and we can blame that directly on the private market place who fight standardization and who, if they were honest, do not want to share anything.  So what I am trying to say is stop blaming Obamacare, the Government, and the President.  This is the way we  have chosen as a society and a Country, and as long as we prefer to keep the employee based system we have now, dominated by private insurers it will never get easy.  But this I know from experience - with time it will get done, as it has many times before.

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