- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Obama administration released a fresh round of Obamacare data for all 50 states Thursday, yet offered no payment data to combat Republican claims that only two-thirds of customers in the federal marketplace have paid their first premium.

The Health and Human Services Department reported that more than 8 million people selected a private health plan on the overhaul’s insurance exchanges from Oct. 1 to March 31, a tally that includes people who got extra time to finish up their selections in early April.

All told, 28 percent of the enrollees were ages 18 to 34, a relatively healthy demographic vital to making the economics of Obamacare work. Analysts have said that, ideally, 40 percent of enrollees would have to be in this age group to keep premiums in check.

But President Obama’s foes are sure to highlight what is not in the official report — who has officially enrolled by paying their first month’s premiums.

The Energy and Commerce Committee said late Wednesday that only 67 percent of people who selected plans in the 36 states served by the federal exchange had actually paid.

They said their doubts speak to the viability of the president’s signature initiative.

“Of the 8 million, have enough signed up that it’s going to keep the program going?” Rep. Timothy Murphy, Pennsylvania Republican, said in an interview Thursday. “And that’s a serious question. We do not know the answer to that yet.”

The committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Henry Waxman of California, said the data did not add up and appeared to have been extracted for political purposes.

“They didn’t get the complete story,” he said.

“We dispute their numbers,” White House press secretary Jay Carney echoed Thursday, claiming that the GOP’s report “isn’t on the level.”

But Mr. Carney could not offer more precise data on the number of people who have paid their premiums.

“We are assembling it, working with issuers,” he said. “We’re not going to put out partial information.”

HHS’ report said the government did not yet have data on “effectuated enrollment,” meaning those who paid.

But in periodic statements, individual insurers have said between 80 percent to 90 percent of their customers paid.

“Some companies are saying they’re higher and some are saying they’re much lower,” Mr. Murphy said of the rates of payment. “It also varies by state. States like Texas, for example, are very low. I believe Pennsylvania is at 81 percent. It varies.”

Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican and the House’s top investigator, said whether two-thirds or 80 percent paid their first month’s premiums, the administration did not surpass the 7-million-enrollee target set by the Congressional Budget Office.

“I think the important thing is that 20 percent to 33 percent are signing up and then not paying, which means that the 7 million figure was never 7 million or close to it,” he said.

Dave Boyer contributed to this report.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide