How many people have really signed up for coverage under Obamacare? The administration says 8.1 million applied through the online exchanges. But a completed application doesn't translate into coverage unless the first premium is paid.
A committee of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives reported data this week showing that only 67% of those who signed up actually paid up. That's a much lower figure than the administration's estimate of around 80%.
Are the new figures accurate? Almost certainly not for the Philadelphia area, at least based on preliminary information. Independence Blue Cross, which sells the lion's share of exchange policies in this region, reports that 87% of those who signed up for coverage starting January 1 or February 1 have paid the first premium. It's too early to tell how many of those who signed up after that will end up paying, but there is no reason to suspect the figure will be much different.
Perhaps Philadelphians are more conscientious about financial obligations than those who live elsewhere. However, it is also possible that the House data doesn't tell an accurate story. Many of those who signed up late haven't paid the first premium because it isn't due yet. The 67% figure may simply reflect the timing of the premium billing cycle.