A Premium on Lies: High Percentage of Health Care Enrollees Make First Payment, Undermine Big GOP Criticism

Rep. Fred Upton (center)As we all know, the dystopian hellhole brought on by Obamacare — worse than the black plague, slavery and a bad case of rabies put together — is built on a pack of insidious lies, the most pernicious of which was that no one signed up for it by the end of the enrollment period. The second of which came courtesy a report a week or so from the House energy committee, the one chaired by Rep. Fred Upton (R-Michigan), that said that no one had paid their premiums.

The report was a joke and essentially set such rigid limits so as to guarantee a bad result and as a result it was mostly just laughed at, making Upton look a wee bit silly. Thankfully, things have yet to die down.

Three large health insurers including WellPoint Inc. (WLP) and Aetna Inc. (AET) say that a high percentage of their new Obamacare customers are paying their first premiums, undermining a Republican criticism of enrollment in the program.

Is it really a criticism if it is fundamentally untrue? That question is one that philosophers will struggle with for the foreseeable future.

As many as 90 percent of WellPoint customers have paid their first premium by its due date, according to testimony the company prepared for a congressional hearing today. For Aetna, the payment is in the “low to mid-80 percent range,” the company said in its own testimony. Health Care Service Corp., which operates Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in five states including Texas, said that number is at least 83 percent.

Fred Upton's committee said the number was only about two-thirds, which by the way was an attempt to pose enrollment numbers as inflated. They couldn't do it through the actual enrollment numbers, so they had to do this to cast doubt on them. Didn't work.

“What you have here is very solid first year enrollment, no matter how you slice it,” Dan Mendelson, president of Avalere Health, a Washington consulting firm, said in a phone interview. “This thing is, at this point, well entrenched.”

I'm not a big fan of insurance companies in general, but when the heath insurance industry says that something is here to stay, probably it's here to stay, Pat Colbeck's 10th Amendment protests notwithstanding.

Anyway, about Fred Upton's committee report.

Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee invited insurers to testify on enrollment after publishing a report last week claiming only two-thirds of people who signed up had paid their first premium.

“That was just foolishness on the part of the committee to even publish that number because it was completely out of context,” Bob Laszewski, an insurance industry consultant in Alexandria, Virginia, said in a phone interview.

Keep in mind that this criticism isn't coming from liberal pundits, bloggers, or Sunday morning shoutfest guests, but heath insurance companies and consultants.

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