Various & Sundry: Insurance co's thrilled, but also at fault for plenty of "late" payments

This LA Times story from 4/21 is chock full of good news:

First, apparently the ACA is such a "socialist, anti-capitalist" enemy of the free market that the private, for-profit insurance companies are just fleeing for the hills. Oh wait, actually...

Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, said all 11 current health plans have indicated they plan to return next year. He also said three new plans have submitted letters of intent indicating they may compete on the exchange in 2015.

Remember the "OnlineMajority" guy (hah!) from mid-March who tried to argue that the "85% paid" number consistently stated by Peter Lee of CoveredCA didn't actually apply to the total enrollment number, but only to the policies actually issued? Well, I shut him down pretty hard at the time (leading to the greatest honor I could ask for: My very own hit piece in NewsBusters!) Anyway, the article makes it even more crystal clear that yes, the "paid" percentage does indeed apply to every enrollee, not just those who have had their policy kick in:

Overall, nearly 1.4 million people enrolled in private health plans through the state exchange. About 85% of them have paid their initial premium thus far so coverage takes effect, according to the exchange.

Meanwhile, you know how I've been pointing out for months that of the remaining 15% or so "unpaid" enrollments, many of them are likely the fault of the insurance company having a backed up or screwed-up billing system? Well, guess what?

The immediate task ahead for health insurers is getting bills and identification cards out to thousands of new customers. Anthem, Blue Shield and other insurers were overwhelmed by a crush of sign-ups in late December among people wanting coverage that started Jan. 1.

More evidence that the insurance companies, at least, are perfectly happy with the results of the first year of the ACA exchanges (Lord knows these guys would be the first ones whining and bailing out if a significant number of their new customers weren't paying up):

CHICAGO (April 22, 2014) — Health insurers appear to be increasingly bullish on the fledgling state and federal exchanges.

That’s in spite of disastrous rollouts in many of the online marketplaces last fall. Mounting evidence suggests more health plans are poised to compete for exchange business during the 2015 open-enrollment period.

...UnitedHealth Group Inc. executives indicated on an April 17 call discussing their first-quarter financial results that the company expects to be more active in the exchanges in 2015. The Minnetonka-Minn.-based insurer took a more cautious approach to the exchanges this year than some of its competitors, particularly WellPoint Inc.

...Cigna Corp. has expressed similar willingness to expand its offerings for 2015. The Bloomfield, Conn.-based company was active in five exchanges this year. “We have a bias to extend, but it’s (to be determined) right now,” David Cordani, Cigna’s president and CEO, said earlier this month, according to Reuters. “There is a lot of work to be done over the next couple of months.”

In addition, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans to compete in insurance exchanges in South Dakota and Iowa in 2015, after sitting out the initial enrollment period. The company cited risk-adjustment protections included in the federal healthcare law as one of the reasons for its willingness to take a chance on the emerging markets.

Some start-up nonprofit insurers have plans to expand into neighboring states in 2015. The marketplaces in West Virginia, Idaho and New Hampshire will all have new not-for-profit competitors seeded with grants or loans under the reform law’s Consumer-Operated and Oriented Plan program.