START OF 2018 OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD

Time: D H M S

Massachusetts: CUE GOP OUTCRY: ONLY 3.5% HAVE PAID!!!

Hat Tip To: 
Felice J. Freyer

I just posted about the first official enrollment numbers coming in from Day One of the 2015 Open Enrollment Period, with small but symbolically important numbers from Vermont and Massachusetts.

I also noted the following passage from today's Boston Globe story about it:

As of 6:30 p.m., 5,967 people had used the Connector website (MAhealthconnector.org) to find out what type of plan they were eligible for.

Of them 2,660 enrolled in MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program, according to Haberlin, who is senior adviser to Maydad Cohen, the governor’s special assistant for project delivery.

The remaining 3,307 learned they were eligible to shop for a private health insurance. Of those, 1,704 selected a plan and 60 paid online (which is not required until Dec. 23).

So, you have 1,704 actually enrolling ("selecting a plan"), of which--GASP!!--only 60 have paid!!

OMG!!! I can hear Fred Upton and his colleagues on the GOP House Energy & Commerce Committee licking their lips and preparing to release another utterly full-of-crap press release even as I type this.

Of course, as Globe Reporter Felice Freyer immediately points out right after that, the first premium payment isn't due for another 5 weeks.

Not that this will stop FOX News and a bunch of other idiotic right-wing outlets from screaming about "Only 3.5% of Obamacare enrollees have PAID!!!", of course.

Actually, this data point is mildly interesting, in that Massachusetts was one of only two states last year (Washington was the other) which was set up to require payment of the first month's premium at the time of plan selection. This theoretically meant that they should have had a 100% payment rate for the 34,000 or so people who managed to actually get through the system. However, given the technical problems, it occurs to me that it probably never really was 100% anyway, since I'm assuming some payments bounced, were lost in the database or otherwise never went through for whatever reason.

This year, it seems that the all-new MA Health Connector has abandoned the "pay at point of purchase" system. On the one hand, this may mean a lower (eventual) payment rate. On the other hand, it should also encourage more people to pull the trigger, since some might be intimidated at the thought of having to cough up several hundred dollars RIGHT THAT MOMENT, given that just committing to a healthcare policy in the first place can make people jumpy.

UPDATE: I've also received clarification from the MA Health Connector's communications guy, Jason Lefferts, that the exchange is still handling all enrollee billing (that is, you'll receive invoices from and make payments to the exchange, not the insurance company), but they're no longer requiring immediate payment; you'll have until 12/23 to do so (I assume this will hold true every month...payment due 1 week prior to coverage month).

UPDATE x2: Sure enough...