In case you missed the breaking news this week, the carriers have pushed back their payment deadline for new enrollees.
The industry trade group – America’s Health Insurance Plans – announced the decision just a few days before the 2014 application deadline, which the administration had already delayed as well.
The one-time delay allows customers in the individual market a bit more time to pay their first month’s bill without worrying about a gap in coverage.
“Under current rules and guidance, consumers who want to begin coverage on January 1 must select a plan by December 23 and pay the first month’s premium by December 31,” the trade group explained in their release. “The short time period in which to complete these steps, particularly around the holidays, combined with the ongoing technical issues with healthcare.gov have raised concerns that some consumers’ coverage may not be able to begin on January 1.”
This was bound to happen – given the law’s start and fits. I’m not sure anything’s been on time, but this is actually an encouraging, if rare, bit of common sense. The time crunch is bad enough, but over the holidays? I know people in D.C. – whether they’re lawmakers or lobbyists – don’t think about such trivial things like families and jobs, but for the rest of us, a little common sense consideration is a refreshing change.
Oh, and AHIP even put together a nice infographic to help consumers shopping around. It might even help brokers communicating with clients. Just a thought.
In other news, and just because it's that time of year, researchers at Obesity are reporting that their latest study shows an increase in health care costs directly proportional to body mass measurements. And the scary part? The correlation actually starts at a healthy body weight.
“Our findings suggest that excess fat is detrimental at any level,” the study’s lead author, Truls Ostbye, concluded.
What makes this more important is that not only does this counter an earlier Journal of American Medicine study tying obesity to lower mortality rates, as Obesity points out, but that this study used health care utilization rates and costs as their metrics. The higher the BMI, then, could be traced directly to higher health care spending – no matter how it turned out in the end, so to speak.
It’s a critical distinction and a barometer those of us in the business of health care – and insurance – should be paying attention to.