WH: Unsure if All 3.3 Million Obamacare Enrollees Have Made Their Premium Payments

February 14, 2014

White House press secretary Jay Carney conceded the White House does not have completely accurate data yet about the percentage of Obamacare enrollees who have actually made their premium payments Friday in the White House press conference.

CNN's Jim Acosta cited a New York Times story which reported 20 percent of Obamacare enrollees failed to make their payments on time and thus did not receive coverage in January.

Carney acknowledged right now the issuers have the most accurate data on who has actually paid for their policy. Moreover, Carney put his own spin on the New York Times report, telling Acosta all indications are "a very high percentage" of health insurance shoppers have made their payments.

However, CMS still needs to finish building the portion of the computer systems needed to process payments and establish concrete data, a process that will be completed in the "next several months," Carney said:

JIM ACOSTA: And getting back to the enrollment numbers yesterday, there have been some reports that a significant number of consumers, enrollees, have not been making their premium payments to activate their coverage. Might that affect the actual number of enrollees? When the administration says 3.3 million people so far, that there's a sizable portion of those folks who haven't paid their premiums -- might that number actually be lower?

JAY CARNEY: As I've said in this room in the past, including this week, the contract between an individual and an insurance company is a private contract.

That is something that is determined by the insurance company and the enrollee. Right now, insurance companies, for that reason, have the most up-to-date, comprehensive and reliable information on the number of people who have paid their premiums, and I think if you saw in one newspaper several major insurance companies have indicated that a high percentage of people have in fact paid for their plans. And there are thousands -- going back again and looking at this more broadly -- there are thousands of insurance plans being sold across the country, and eventually, all of these plans will report to CMS.

The total number of enrollees who have paid for their premiums -- and, you know, right now, the insurers have, the issuers have the most up-to-date, comprehensive information. When it comes to payments, the role that CMS plays is the issuance or the payment of tax credits and subsidies for those who qualify for them, so they supplement the -- or subsidize the policies that enrollees have signed up for when they qualify for a subsidy.

And there's an automated payment system that will be coming online fully in the next several months which will include as of -- in the flow of information, more specific timely data relating to the payment of premiums by enrollees provided by the insurance companies, which is just a way of saying we will have -- CMS will have concrete and timely data on those who have paid. Right now, that information is most reliably provided by issuers who have, I think -- citing this -- I think it was a New York Times article -- reported that a very high percentage have been meeting their premium deadlines.

ACOSTA: But of those 3.3 million people that the administration said, you know, have enrolled in plans, do you know if all 3.3 million have made their payments?

CARNEY: Again --

ACOSTA: You don't know.

CARNEY: -- the issuers are the ones who have the most specific information about who has met their payments.