Insurers are struggling to get their premium payments from people who signed up for coverage through the health-law marketplaces, leaving many plans with fewer enrollees than expected at the start of the new year.
Friday was the deadline the industry set last month for people to pay for coverage that started Jan. 1. A big gap between the roughly two million people the government said selected plans in the marketplaces and those who actually pay—the final step to getting coverage—could pose a fresh challenge for the Obama administration. It also raises the stakes for small health plans and startups that are relying heavily on the marketplaces for business.
Smaller customer pools are riskier for insurers, partly because there may be too few healthy customers to offset even a handful of costly patients.
Several insurers have said that despite the Jan. 10 cutoff, they will have to informally continue to accept payments that flow in late. Others, including several of the biggest, officially pushed back their deadlines to later in the month.
“It’s been pulling teeth,” said Shaun Greene, chief operating officer of Utah-based Arches Health Plan, a startup. As of Thursday, Arches had collected about 60% of premiums for people who signed up for coverage that took effect Jan. 1. He said Arches would urge customers in email and phone calls to pay for at least a few more days, even after the deadline.
Cancer Patient Chooses Death After Obamacare Causes His Premium to Increase By 833% - http://t.co/OPlG56UFHe pic.twitter.com/LaxJmYwDHc
— The Last Great Stand (@LastGreatStand) January 7, 2014