With the automated payment system for the federal health insurance marketplace still under construction, the Obama administration will temporarily require insurers to manually submit their payment requests beginning in January.
The marketplace was supposed to calculate the amount of premium tax credits and cost-sharing benefits that low- and middle-income enrollees were eligible for after they sign up for marketplace coverage. The financial assistance would then be sent electronically to insurers to help pay for coverage.
But that payment delivery system is still under construction and will not be ready for use when insurers are due to receive the federal subsidies in January.
If the subsidy payments aren't received on time, consumers' health coverage could be jeopardized.
To avoid that possibility, insurers will submit their subsidy payment requests to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which will verify the amounts and pay them electronically using the Medicare automated payment system.
Consumers will not be impacted by the change, administration officials say. As long as they sign up for a marketplace plan by December 23 and make their first premium payment by December 31, their coverage will begin on January 1.
Staff at HHS will be contacting insurers to educate them about the new process.
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