Just because you’ve picked an Obamacare insurance policy doesn’t mean you’ve got coverage. If you want to be insured come Jan. 1, you have to pay your first month’s premium by your insurer’s due date.
- Sounds simple enough, but federal officials and insurers are concerned that many consumers don’t realize they have to take this last step and will remain uninsured. What’s more, those who don’t pay by then may have their Obamacare applications terminated, forcing them to re-enroll for coverage that will begin later in 2014.
- The tight deadline and continuing errors with consumers’ applications being sent to insurers also risk leaving some folks uncovered. Obama administration officials are advising consumers to check with their insurer of choice to make sure it received their application and payment and that coverage will begin Jan. 1.
- Here’s the timeline: Consumers have until Dec. 23 to pick an insurance plan on an exchange handling enrollment for 36 states, if they want to be covered at the start of the new year. Once they do, a final screen confirms they’ve completed their application, but warns that they have to pay their first premium for coverage to be activated.
- The site then provides a payment button that takes them to their insurer’s website. Some companies accept online payments, but others give consumers information about how to take care of the bill. Those who live in Californian have until Jan. 6 to make their first payment. Those planning to sign up this month should check the deadlines of both their exchange and their chosen insurer.
- While the Obama administration has reported that more than 100,000 Americans picked plans in October, the first month of open enrollment, it’s not known how many of them have paid. If payment isn’t made by the due date, the insurance carrier must void the application.
- Another complication is that insurers also don’t have a lot of time to process applications and send out ID cards. The timeline, particularly over the holiday week, will prove “challenging” for some companies, one industry executive said.
- The process is being further complicated by the fact that insurers are receiving applications from Exchanges that contain errors, such as missing data. Some applications aren’t getting through, so insurers don’t know to follow up with these folks. Both of these problems are slowing down the enrollment process.
*Modified from a CNNMoney article