Obamacare insurers that are part of the industry’s top trade group are voluntarily giving customers more time to pay their premiums this year.
Premiums for Jan. 1 coverage are usually due by Dec. 31; the deadline to sign up for coverage in most states was Monday, although a growing number delayed that date as well. (RELATED: Two More States Delay Obamacare Deadlines At The Last Minute)
But insurers are giving customers an extra grace period to pay for their coverage, which varies by each company, according to America’s Health Insurance Plans. Insurers will still provide health insurance beginning on Jan. 1, even for those who haven’t paid yet.
“Our community wants to do everything we can to make sure consumers have greater peace of mind about their health care coverage and to support them throughout the open enrollment process,” Karen Ignagni, AHIP’s president, said in a statement.
During last year’s open enrollment period, the Obama administration pressured several insurers into accepting January premium payments all the way through Jan. 15 in two separate delays due to the problems with HealthCare.gov.
AHIP said it’s focused on running things smoothly “given the uncertainty around the first renewal process.”
Insurance companies are still dealing with some technical issues, especially vestiges of last year’s problems. Renewing and changing customers’ coverage may prove to be difficult because during the first open enrollment period, enrollment files sent to insurers by the federal government were often faulty. Making changes to those files could be labor-intensive for insurance companies.
The group noted double-billing as a possible problem they’re already working on, asking customers to turn to call centers for information about the “process and timing for issuing refunds” if they’re charged two premiums in January. The announcement suggests that companies aren’t quite at ease yet with the technology in place for Obamacare exchanges, whether they’re autorenewing past customers or making changes to their health insurance.