Millions of horror stories are right around the corner.
About 5 ½ million people will lose health insurance coverage on Jan 1st. But insurers are reporting that only 5% to 15% of those who have signed up in the exchanges have actually paid the first month’s premium. December 15th was the original deadline for Jan 1st coverage. Kathleen Sebelius thinks she has the authority to tell insurers to extend the deadline to Dec 31st. She is asking insurers to voluntarily extend the deadline well into January. Unless the insurers oblige, it appears that several million people will have a gap in their coverage come January. The administration is obviously very worried about the bad publicity that will result. So it is asking insurers in the exchanges to pay medical bills they don’t really owe to prevent the patients from bearing the full cost of the gap in coverage.
In particular, HHS has:
- Asked insurers to refill prescriptions through January if those prescriptions were covered under previous plans.
- Asked providers and insurers to help educate people about their options if they find themselves with an insurance gap by not enrolling by Dec. 23.
Megan McArdle has a similar take on this.