Several Insurers Offer First-Payment Delay for New Coverage
Several health insurers have extended by up to an additional 20 days a deadline for consumers to make their first payment for coverage through the Affordable Care Act's insurance exchanges that begins retroactively on Jan. 1, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 1/8).
The extensions come a few weeks after many insurers voluntarily agreed to extend the first-payment deadline until Jan. 10. Those decisions came after HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius revealed that the Obama administration was implementing or seeking a trio of ACA deadline extensions to ease consumers' transition to coverage in the insurance marketplaces this year.
Sebelius said the changes were prompted by the technical issues that had 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, 12/19/13).
Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in Illinois and Texas and three other BCBS affiliates that sell policies on the federal exchange announced that they have pushed back the first-payment deadline to Jan. 30, Reuters reports. Meanwhile, WellPoint -- which operates Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in 14 states -- said it is giving its customers until Jan. 15 to make their payments.
In Connecticut, Kevin Counihan -- CEO of Access Health CT, the state-run insurance exchange -- said three participating insurers have announced three different payment deadlines -- Jan. 10, Jan. 15 and Jan. 17 -- for coverage that begins retroactively on Jan. 1. In California, the state-run Covered California exchange announced recently that it extended until Jan. 15 the deadline for consumers to pay their first month's premium.
Several other insurers, including Aetna, said they are sticking to the Jan. 10 payment deadline (Humer, Reuters, 1/8).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.