15% of Exchange Enrollees Have Not Paid First Month’s Premium
About 15% of California residents who had enrolled in health plans through Covered California as of Jan. 31 have not yet paid their first month's premiums, according to four major health insurers participating in the exchange, the San Jose Mercury News reports (Seipel, San Jose Mercury News, 3/9).
Details of Unpaid Premiums
According to the Mercury News, many consumers who enrolled in coverage through the state exchange have not yet paid their first month's premium, including:
- 13% of Kaiser Permanente enrollees;
- About 15% of Anthem Blue Cross of California enrollees;
- About 15% of Blue Shield enrollees; and
- About 15% of Health Net enrollees.
Observers have noted several potential reasons for delays in premium payments, including that consumers could have:
- Accidentally enrolled in more than one plan;
- Been hired at a company that provides health coverage;
- Decided not to pay after discovering the health plan they had selected did not include their physician; or
- Decided to pay the penalty for not having health insurance rather than pay the cost of insurance.
Neil Crosby of the California Association of Health Underwriters said the lack of payments has surprised insurers. Crosby said, "They thought that when they billed for coverage, people would go ahead and pay their premiums."
Exchange officials said they hope more consumers will pay their first month's premium as the March 31 deadline for open enrollment approaches. However, they added that insurers are responsible for collecting the payments.
Covered California spokesperson Dana Howard said, "The plans are best able to deal with collecting the payments. That's not what Covered California does," adding, "So we are counting on them to be able to best implement that" (San Jose Mercury News, 3/9).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.