KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Insurers: Payment Rates Above 80% For Plans Purchased On Health Exchanges

Officials from the major insurance companies were not following themes of gloom and doom and instead told the Energy and Commerce Committee that the overhaul has not triggered a government takeover of their industry, and that their stock prices are doing well.   

The New York Times: Called by Republicans, Health Insurers Deliver Unexpected Testimony
House Republicans summoned a half-dozen health insurance executives to a hearing Wednesday envisioned as another forum for criticism of the Affordable Care Act. But insurers refused to go along with the plan, and surprised Republican critics of the law by undercutting some of their arguments against it. Insurers, appearing before a panel of the Energy and Commerce Committee, testified that the law had not led to a government takeover of their industry, as some Republicans had predicted. Indeed, several insurers said their stock prices had increased in the last few years (Pear, 5/7).

The Associated Press: Health Insurers: Payment Rates Above 80 Percent
Aetna reported payment rates in “the low- to mid-80 percent range;” Wellpoint said the rate was as high as 90 percent for those whose premium had come due; the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association said 80 to 85 percent; and the Health Care Service Corporation, which sells Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in five states, pegged the rate at 83 percent or above. The figures were in line with what individual insurers have said on earnings calls with analysts and elsewhere in recent weeks. Democrats seized on the figures disclosed at a House hearing as the latest sign that the health care law has defied its critics and is working (5/7).

The Wall Street Journal: Insurers: High Proportion Of Health Plan Enrollees Paid Premiums
Insurance company executives on Wednesday told Congress that high proportions of people signing up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act paid their first month's premium, fueling the partisan fight over the impact of the health law. Officials from Aetna Inc., WellPoint Inc. and Health Care Service Corp. said that in March and April they had seen around 80 percent to 90 percent of enrollees who faced payment deadlines respond to invoices by the insurers' deadlines. They expect more people who had signed up for coverage toward the end of the enrollment period to pay in the coming weeks (Radnofsky, 5/7).

USA Today: Insurers: Most New Enrollees Have Paid Health Premiums
Insurers also have duplicate enrollments caused by the disastrous launch of the federal exchange website. Many people were advised to start from scratch, but their original applications were still in the system, Pratt said. The insurers said back-end payment issues are still causing problems (Kennedy, 5/7).

The Fiscal Times: Insurers: 80 To 90 Percent Have Paid Premiums
Executives from some of the largest insurance companies in the country just poured cold water on Republicans’ claims that a significant portion of Obamacare enrollees had not paid their premiums. In congressional testimony on Wednesday, executives from Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna and WellPoint estimated about 80 to 90 percent of people who had signed up for plans on the state or federal exchanges had paid their first month’s premiums. For months, Republicans have attacked the Obama administration for not releasing figures on how many people had paid their first month’s premiums. Though the administration still has not cited official figures, they have previously cited insurers’ estimates that about 80 percent had paid (Ehley, 5/7).

Politico Pro: Health Plans Say Payment Rates High
Insurance executives testifying on Capitol Hill for the first time since Obamacare enrollment ended confirmed that the vast majority of enrollees have started paying their premiums -- but wouldn’t say how much the cost of coverage will rise next year. Top officials for Wellpoint, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Aetna told the House Energy and Commerce oversight subcommittee that 80 percent to 90 percent of enrollees in the new marketplaces have paid at least their first month’s premium, as insurers had already suggested. But they had little to say when Republicans tried to pry more information from them (Cunningham, 5/7).

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