OKLAHOMA CITY – The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee has found, in an investigation of the federally-organized health insurance exchange, that only 48 percent of enrollees in Oklahoma have paid their first month’s premium.
Jonathan Small, policy vice president for the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA), told Oklahoma Watchdog, “This actually fits with the data in Oklahoma on insurance participation. Many Oklahomans refuse to purchase auto insurance even though it is affordable considering the risk and it’s guarantee issue.”
As federal officials applaud increased enrollment in the federal exchange, scrutiny of premium payments is also intensifying. While Oklahoma is among the lowest ranking states in premium payments through the exchange, nationwide only two-thirds (67 percent) of exchange enrollees have paid their premiums.
“The bottom line is ObamaCare continues to fail. It doesn’t matter what numbers the White House conjures up about enrollment, people don’t want the government to force you to sign-up and force you to pay for healthcare,” said John Tidwell, state director of Americans for Prosperity. “After all, the President told us time and time again if you like your health insurance plan you could keep it; Oklahomans knew the lie of the year wasn’t true and they still don’t believe ObamaCare is going to work,” Tidwell said.
Other states with low first-month premium payment rates (under 55 percent paid) include Texas (42 percent), Illinois (52), Mississippi (54), and Michigan (55).
According to the House panel, “This data represents all 160 insurance providers in the federally facilitated marketplace as of April 15, 2014.”
U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-Michigan, said his panel is tired of “receiving incomplete pictures of enrollment.” The panel’s analysis concluded “the administration’s recent declaration’s of success may be unfounded.”
Small of OCPA, the state’s largest free market think tank, continued, “Many Oklahomans refused to buy health insurance when it was considerably less than what is on the exchanges.”
“Why would people who won’t purchase auto insurance and wouldn’t purchase health insurance when it was less expensive, purchase health insurance when it is even more expensive, and the individual penalty is largely unenforceable?”
Departing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told the News9, Oklahoma City affiliate of CBS News, that participants are not “fully enrolled” until they pay the first month’s premium.