POLITICS: PennAve

HHS unable to determine who has paid for Obamacare health insurance plans

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Politics,Congress,Susan Ferrechio,Health Care,PennAve,Kathleen Sebelius,HHS

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told a House panel Wednesday that nobody knows how many Obamacare enrollees have actually paid their health insurance bills.

“People are buying a product in the private market,” Sebelius told the House Ways and Means Committee, which was holding a hearing on the 2015 HHS budget. “As soon as we have accurate information, we will give it to you. But we do not currently have information about how many people have paid.”

The White House yesterday announced that 4.2 million people have signed up for Obamacare through insurance exchanges ahead of a March 31 deadline. About one quarter of the enrollees are in the 18 to 34 age bracket, far lower than the nearly 40 percent of young people the administration had anticipated would enroll by now.

Republicans are now pressuring the administration to find out who has actually paid for the plans they signed up for.

“How can it be that HHS, in charge of this program, cites a number, 4.2 million people signed up, but has no idea how many people have paid?” Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., asked.

Sebelius said the government does not have access to the information, “because the consumers don't pay us, they pay their insurance company.”

Sebelius said she does not know how many enrollees were previously uninsured.

A survey by McKinsey determined that 27 percent of new enrollees were previously uninsured, though ensuring those without coverage was the main purpose of creating the law.

“That's a low number compared to what you all projected,” Price told Sebelius. “Is that consistent with your information?”

“We don't collect the previously insured,” Sebelius responded. “We'd be happy to give them to you as soon as we have accurate information.”

Of those 27 percent of previously uninsured enrollees, about 13 percent have paid their premiums, according to McKinsey.

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