Health insurance companies see 80-90 percent payment rate

Major health insurance companies are pushing back against an estimate from U.S. House Republicans last week that only 67 percent of Americans had paid for insurance obtained through the Obama health law exchanges, as insurance executives instead say their payment rates are in the 80 to 90 percent range.

"For those who had reached their payment due date, the payment rate, though dynamic, has been in the low to mid 80 percent range," said Paul Wingle of Aetna.

In prepared testimony for a Wednesday hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Wingle said Aetna - which is on the exchanges in 17 states - "had over 600,000 members who had enrolled, and roughly 500,000 members who had paid."

That would provide a figure in the low 80 percent range.

Others reported similar figures, like Health Care Services Corporation, which does business as Blue Cross, Blue Shield in Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

For those who signed up on the exchange and had a payment date of January 1, the group reported a payment rate of 85 percent; for those who bought policies off the exchange, it was 90 percent. The numbers were similar through April as well.

"We are seeing strong membership growth and large percentages of our newly enrolled customers are successfully paying their premiums by the due date," reported Dennis Matheis of Wellpoint, Inc, another executive to testify at the House hearing.

Matheis says when their insurance figures for states where the final payment deadline has now passed, the payment numbers have sometimes ticked up to 90 percent.

Those insurance figures from different companies are a much higher number than what Republicans had given last week.

"Through April 15, 2014, industry data provided to the Committee indicates that the payment rate nationwide is 67 percent," the Energy and Commerce Committee reported.

At Wednesday's hearing, Republicans will also press the executives for predictions on what they believe the final enrollment numbers will show, and look for other insights into the Obama health law's impact on the health insurance industry and consumers.

"What can consumers and patients expect to experience regarding networks, doctor choices, and future premiums under the PPACA?" was one question suggested in a GOP hearing memo.