The next big Obamacare question: will people who sign up pay their first premium and get covered? | Arkansas Blog

The next big Obamacare question: will people who sign up pay their first premium and get covered?

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I was out of town for last week's Public Health meetings and am playing catch-up. Worth noting: Arkansas Insurance Department officials testified on Friday that of the 33,569 people who enrolled in the (non-private-option) Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace, more than 8,000 have not yet paid their first month's premium. Given that the pace of enrollment has picked up lately, I'm guessing that a good chunk of these people are recent enrollees who have not yet hit a due date. That said, some portion of enrollees will never pay their first month's premium, which means coverage will never go into effect. Just as with the national figures — 6 million enrollees and counting — payment is a big open question. The number to watch as data becomes available in the coming months is the number of people covered, not just the number of people who initially signed up. Nationally, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said today that 80 to 90 percent of enrollees have paid a premium.

AID officials also testified that 2,668 of the plans counted in their enrollment numbers have been canceled, possibly because people selected another plan or discovered they qualified for the private option (AID officials said they are looking in to the reasons for the cancellations). While the number of people signing up is a fine preliminary figure while we wait for more data on who pays and gets covered, there's definitely no reason for including the cancellations in the enrollment numbers. Adjusting accordingly, that puts enrollment in the Arkansas Marketplace at around 31,000 through March 24. 



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