AHIP: Most Members Extending Exchange Plan Payment Deadline
On Wednesday, America's Health Insurance Plans announced that a majority of its members have voluntarily agreed to extend until Jan. 10 the deadline for consumers to make their first payment for coverage purchased through the health insurance exchanges that takes effect Jan. 1, the Washington Post reports (Goldstein, Washington Post, 12/18).
The announcement came almost a week after HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius revealed that the Obama administration was implementing or seeking a trio of Affordable Care Act deadline extensions to ease consumers' transition to coverage in the insurance marketplaces next year.
Sebelius said HHS had:
- Officially asked insurers to honor the new Dec. 23 deadline for coverage that begins on Jan. 1;
- Urged insurers to give consumers until Dec. 31 to make their payments for coverage that begins Jan. 1 and asked them to accept late or partial payments for coverage; and
- Extended by one month -- through the end of January 2014 -- the federal Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, which has been providing coverage to about 100,000 U.S. residents with severe health conditions who were unable to purchase private coverage prior to the ACA.
Sebelius said the changes were prompted by the technical issues that plagued the online marketplaces -- particularly the federal health insurance exchange website, HealthCare.gov -- when they were launched in October. The issues caused application problems and delays for millions of consumers. As a result, Sebelius said many of them would need more time to select and pay for the new coverage (California Healthline, 12/13).
Although insurers have agreed to extend the payment deadline, consumers still will be required to submit their enrollment applications by Dec. 23 (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 12/18). In addition, insurers have agreed to cover individuals retroactively if they use medical services after Jan. 1 but send their premium payments by Jan. 10, the New York Times reports (Abelson, New York Times, 12/18).
Although the administration urged insurers to provide a payment deadline extension, AHIP spokesperson Robert Zirkelbach noted that insurers' decisions were voluntary and reflected a common view across the industry (Washington Post, 12/18).
AHIP President and CEO Karen Ignagni described the extension as a solution "to give consumers greater piece of mind about their health care coverage." The organization in a release said the extension will also "reduce potential consumer confusion in the marketplace" (AHIP release, 12/18).
HHS spokesperson Joanne Peters said, "We applaud the nation's health insurers" and "look forward to continuing to work with insurers to find ways to ensure that as many Americans as possible can find coverage in the health insurance marketplace" (New York Times, 12/18).
Covered California Will Not Extend Deadline for Consumer Payments
In response to AHIP's announcement, Covered California officials said that the state health insurance exchange will not extend the deadline to pay premiums on private policies that take effect Jan. 1, KPCC's "KPCC News" reports.
According to a spokesperson for the exchange, Covered California already has given consumers until Jan. 6 to pay the first premium, a deadline that will hold (Alonso-Zaldivar, "KPCC News," AP/KPCC, 12/18).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.