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Obamacare payment system will take months to complete, White House says

The federal government may not completely finish the automated payment system for Obamacare for “several months,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said Friday.

Until that system is fully running, the administration won’t be able to verify how many of the consumers who signed up for Obamacare insurance are, in fact, paying their premiums and are hence truly enrolled.

“There's an automated payment system that will coming online fully in the next several months, which will include in the flow of information... timely data relating to the payment of premiums by enrollees,” Carney said.

The administration reported earlier in the week that nearly 3.3 million people have selected plans on the Obamacare marketplace as of Feb. 1. However, insurance companies are saying that about 20 percent of those people failed to pay their premiums on time and consequently didn’t receive coverage in January, the New York Times reports. “I think people are enrolling in multiple places,” Aetna CEO Mark T. Bertolini reportedly said. “They are shopping. And what happens is that they never really get back on to disenroll from plans they prior enrolled in.”

Carney said that the administration can’t confirm that percentage until its automated payment system is running.

If a customer enrolled in Obamacare is eligible for subsidies, those government payments go directly to the insurer, and then the insurer passes on the savings to the customer in the form of lower premiums. “The payments are happening on time,” Carney stressed. However, “there is an automated processing system that is not online yet.”

“Once that automated payment processing system is online, in a few months, that system will provide [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] with the kind of data that we've been asked about -- and CMS has been asked about -- which is the overall picture of  how high a percentage of enrollees have made their premium payments,” he said. 

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