Obamacare has a payment problem


By Patrick B. McGuigan | Oklahoma Watchdog

OKLAHOMA CITY — Of the Oklahoma residents who enrolled in Obamacare, just 48 percent have paid the first month’s premium, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee says.

FAILURE TO LAUNCH: Less than half of Oklahomans enrolled through the federal health care exchange have paid their first month’s insurance premium — meaning they are not “fully enrolled.”

“This actually fits with the data in Oklahoma on insurance participation,” Jonathan Small, policy vice president for the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, told Oklahoma Watchdog. “Many Oklahomans refuse to purchase auto insurance, even though it is affordable considering the risk and its guarantee issue.”

As federal officials applaud increased enrollment in the federal exchange, scrutiny of premium payments is intensifying. While Oklahoma is among the lowest-ranking states in premium payments through the exchange, nationwide only two-thirds — 67 percent — of exchange enrollees have paid.

“The bottom line is Obamacare continues to fail. It doesn’t matter what numbers the White House conjures up about enrollment, people don’t want the government to force you to sign-up and force you to pay for health care,” said John Tidwell, state director of Americans for Prosperity.

“After all, the president told us time and time again if you like your health insurance plan you could keep it; Oklahomans knew the lie of the year wasn’t true and they still don’t believe Obamacare is going to work,” Tidwell said.

Other states with low first-month premium payment rates — less than 55 percent paid — include Texas (42 percent), Illinois (52), Mississippi (55), and Michigan (55).

“This data represents all 160 insurance providers in the federally facilitated marketplace as of April 15, 2014,” according to the House panel.

U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., said his panel is tired of “receiving incomplete pictures of enrollment.” The panel’s analysis concluded “the administration’s recent declaration’s of success may be unfounded.”

“Many Oklahomans refused to buy health insurance when it was considerably less than what is on the exchanges,” said Small of OCPA, the state’s largest free market think tank.

“Why would people who won’t purchase auto insurance and wouldn’t purchase health insurance when it was less expensive, purchase health insurance when it is even more expensive, and the individual penalty is largely unenforceable?”

Participants are not “fully enrolled” until they pay the first month’s premium, departing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told News 9, the Oklahoma City affiliate of CBS News.

Contact Patrick McGuigan at pmcguigan@watchdog.org.