House Report: Just 2.5 Million Have Paid Obamacare Premium
Wednesday, April 30, 2014 08:34 PM
By: Todd Beamon
Only two-thirds of those enrolled in Obamacare health insurance programs through HealthCare.gov had paid their first month's premium by April 15 — and only 25 percent of those were in the desperately needed 18-34 age group, according to figures House Republicans released on Wednesday.
According to data released by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, only 67 percent of those with healthcare plans obtained through the national marketplace — or about 2.45 million Americans — had completed the sign-up process and had paid their premium by the end of the first enrollment period.
A total of 3.65 million Americans had obtained coverage through HealthCare.gov by April 15, the figures show.
Of those who had paid, 52 percent were between the ages of 45 and 64, the figures show — and 16 percent were 35 to 44 years old. Only 6 percent of those paid were under 18, while 25 percent were between 18 and 34. The remaining 1 percent is over 65.
The White House struggled throughout the open enrollment period, Oct. 1 to March 31, to enroll young people in Obamacare. Young, healthy adults are needed to offset the costs of healthcare for older and sicker Americans.
The Energy and Commerce Committee's report focuses solely on the number of Americans who have paid for coverage. It obtained the information directly from the 160 health plans that are selling insurance policies through the HealthCare.gov website, which serves 36 states.
The panel went to the insurers because "administration officials repeatedly insisted they were incapable of collating that data and that the insurance providers are the only ones with those details," it said in a news release.
The data do not include information on the 14 states that operate their own exchanges, the committee said. One of those 14, Oregon, last week announced it was moving to the federal site due to consistent faults in its own website.
The new information challenges President Barack Obama's latest claims about the success of his signature domestic legislative achievement. He said nearly two weeks ago that 8 million Americans had signed up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act through the national website.
That figure was one million more than what had been expected, Obama said, but the president did not disclose how many had completed the sign-up process and had paid their first month's premium.
"While the administration has relied on questionable nationwide figures to boast the law’s success, the state-by-state breakdown compiled by the committee underscores the serious problems facing some states," the panel, chaired by Republican Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, said in a statement.
"In a sad reversal away from its vows of transparency, the Obama administration, from inside the Oval Office on down, has gone to extraordinary lengths to keep basic details of the health law from the public," Upton said in the release. "Tired of receiving incomplete pictures of enrollment in the health care law, we went right to the source and found that the administration’s recent declarations of success may be unfounded.
"We need a complete picture of how this law is working," Upton added. "We will continue to strive for transparency and hold the administration accountable for this law’s shortcomings and broken promises."
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor charged that the new figures "stand in stark contrast to the White House’s previous assertions.
"While the administration was eager to declare that Obamacare’s mandate had worked, it has so far not provided any substantive data to back that up.
"If President Obama disputes the information provided by the insurance companies, he should direct [Department of Health and Human Services] to immediately release complete enrollment data, including how many people were previously insured."
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing with insurance companies on the new Obamacare data next Thursday. The companies will be asked to provide updated enrollment information by May 20.
The GOP figures also come as several large insurers have reported higher payment percentages in recent weeks, though the dates for the estimates vary.
For instance, WellPoint said that around 90 percent enrolled in Obamacare plans have been paying their premiums, The Wall Street Journal reports, and Aetna said about 80 percent of its enrollees had been making payments.
While Republicans charged that the figures were further evidence that Obamacare was not working, an HHS spokeswoman told the Journal the GOP's figures did not capture every insurance company offering coverage through HealthCare.gov.
"Additionally, given the significant surge in enrollments at the end of March, it stands to reason that not all enrollees would have paid by the date of this so-called report, since many people's bills were not even due yet," said Erin Shields Britt.
But any information the agency has to clarify the committee's report would be greatly appreciated, Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn, the panel's vice chair, told Newsmax.
"Throughout our investigation, this administration has been less than transparent about the realities of Obamacare," she said. "Despite repeated requests, HHS has refused to provide us with details about who's actually paid.
"In response to our request, the numbers in this report were provided directly to the committee from insurance providers," she added. "If HHS has information they'd like to share with us that proves otherwise, we'd welcome the opportunity to review it.
"It would be a refreshing change of practice if President Obama and his administration actually acted in a manner accountable to the American people for once."