Washington’s Obamacare exchange is falling far behind in getting its “enrollees” to pay for their exchange plans, officials reported Tuesday.
The state-run exchange has had just 61 percent of its Obamacare sign-ups pay their first premiums for private health insurance plans. In contrast, California’s exchange has reported that 85 percent of those who signed up for private health coverage have paid for them so far.
Industry experts have projected that around 80 percent of Obamacare customers will end up paying their premiums by the end of the open enrollment period March 31. White House press secretary Jay Carney denied that the Obama administration has any knowledge of the actual payment numbers last week, but pointed reporters to the ballpark figure of 80 percent. (RELATED: White House admits a fifth of Obamacare ‘enrollees’ won’t buy insurance)
At the end of February, Washington wasn’t anywhere close to that number. Of 184,000 Washington state residents that signed up for a private health plan on the exchange website, just 112,000 paid for coverage. The data update was released Tuesday and the exchange’s board will meet Thursday to discuss the numbers.
Although the payment numbers appear low so far, Washington state’s site was one of the few that performed reasonably well since the beginning of the enrollment period in October.
While Washington outperformed much of the country technologically, the structure of its exchange offerings have been less impressive. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation study found that Washington’s health insurance market is less competitive today than it was before Obamacare launched in 2012.
Just one company has a 62 percent market share in Washington; the top three parent companies hold about 92 percent of the Washington exchange market. Shortly before the exchanges launched in October, just four insurers were approved to sell health plans in the state marketplace, but a rush to approve several brought the total to nine (three are owned by the same company).
Washington’s market has also received criticism for having all but two plans available on the exchange that exclude one of the state’s premier medical institutions, Seattle Children’s Hospital. The hospital sued the state for approving narrow networks that didn’t cover the facility as an effort to keep down ballooning costs. (RELATED: Report: Obamacare exchanges not covering best hospitals for cancer care)
The Obama administration announced Tuesday that people who started to enroll in the federal Obamacare exchange by the March 31 deadline but did not finish will be granted an extension until mid-April, the Washington Post reported.
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