The federal government may not completely finish the automated payment system for Healthcare.gov for “several months,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said Friday. Until that system is fully running, the administration won’t be able to verify how many of the consumers who signed up for through the health insurance website are, in fact, paying their premiums and are hence truly enrolled. The administration reported earlier in the week that nearly 3.3 million people have selected plans on through the marketplace as of Feb. 1. However, insurance companies are saying that about 20 percent of those people failed to pay their premiums on time and consequently didn’t receive coverage in January, the New York Times reports. Paying the first month’s premium is the final step in completing an enrollment. Under federal rules, people must pay the initial premium to have coverage take effect. In view of the chaotic debut of the federal marketplace and many state exchanges, the White House urged insurers to give people more time, and many agreed to do so. But, insurers said, some people missed even the extended deadlines.
If a customer enrolled in Obamacare is eligible for subsidies, those government payments go directly to the insurer, and then the insurer passes on the savings to the customer in the form of lower premiums. “The payments are happening on time,” Carney stressed. However, “there is an automated processing system that is not online yet.”