By Russ Britt
Still at the helm, outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is expected to answer Republican claims later Thursday that only two-thirds of those who have signed up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act in the federal exchange have paid their premiums.
Sebelius gave notice of the 2:15 p.m. Eastern conference call with reporters early Thursday in the wake of a report from the House Energy and Commerce Committee that says 67% of those who signed up for Obamacare in those states using the HealthCare.gov web site paid their premiums, while 33% had not as of April 15.
The Republican-led committee panel issued the report late Wednesday, saying it sent letters to insurers asking for specific enrollment data in the nation’s 34 federally facilitated marketplaces, or FFMs.
The report seems to contradict anecdotal information from insurers who say they’ve received payments from 80% to 90% of Obamacare enrollees.
“In a sad reversal away from its vows of transparency, the Obama administration, from inside the Oval Office on down, has gone to extraordinary lengths to keep basic details of the health law from the public. Tired of receiving incomplete pictures of enrollment in the health care law, we went right to the source and found that the administration’s recent declarations of success may be unfounded,” CommitteeChairman Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan said in press statement.
But insurers say the report doesn’t take into account several factors, including the fact no state-based marketplaces are included. In those regions, the rate of premium payments has been much higher, thus bringing up the average.
Insurers also point out there are a number of operational reasons for a delay in premium payments, including the fact some carriers have given these new clients extra time to submit their bills, churn in enrollment, duplicative signups and retroactive changes.
We’ll have more on Sebelius’s comments later today. This will be one of the last conferences the HHS secretary will hold before leaving office. She announced her resignation from the post last month after the rocky start to Obamacare enrollment late last year.