Blue Cross and Blue Shield is notifying 6,400 North Carolina applicants for subsidized insurance under the Affordable Care Act that they didn’t submit a payment and their enrollment wasn’t processed.
“Since we did not receive your payment by the extended deadline of January 24,” the letters state, “we were unable to enroll you in the coverage you requested for January 1.”
The letters are dated Feb. 14 and notify recipients they can still resubmit an application by the federal health law’s March 31 deadline. Blue Cross is North Carolina’s largest health insurance provider.
The Blue Cross notices indicate that the federal enrollment numbers released earlier this week are inflated. The numbers from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services showed that 161,161 North Carolinians had selected a health insurance plan through January, but that tally does not distinguish between those who paid and those who didn’t.
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It’s not clear if Coventry Health Care of the Carolinas experienced a similar problem with non-payment in North Carolina. Company spokesman Walt Cherniak said 135,000 have enrolled nationwide and more than 70 percent have paid their premiums.
Nationwide, about 20 percent of enrollees for subsidized insurance did not complete their applications with a payment, The New York Times reported. Insurers sampled by The Times reported that between 5 percent and 30 percent of applicants did not make a payment, depending on the insurance company and the state.
The payment is the last step of the application and is required to purchase insurance coverage.
The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, requires most Americans to have health insurance and offers subsidies to purchase individual policies for individuals and households within certain income limits.
The law makes it illegal for an insurer to reject a customer because of a pre-existing condition and also limits the costs charged to older customers.
Blue Cross spokeswoman Michelle Douglas said the original total of non-payments was greater than 6,400 but some applicants paid after they were contacted by the insurer. Blue Cross contacted those customers by phone, email and by mailed invoice.
Additionally, Blue Cross received about 100 checks that couldn’t be matched up with an insurance application, Douglas said. In those cases, the payment was attempted but it was not successful. Those checks will be returned.