Report: Insurers delay O-Care payment deadline

A handful of insurers are delaying the deadline for consumers to pay for plans purchased on ObamaCare's new exchanges, according to a report.

The decision by Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) of Texas, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois and three other affiliates means that some people with new coverage won't have to pay their first premium until the end of the month.

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The BCBS plans delayed their first payment deadline from Friday to Jan. 31, Reuters reported, and WellPoint announced a new deadline of next Wednesday, giving consumers five additional days to pay.

The changes underscore confusion surrounding Jan. 1. coverage options on ObamaCare's new marketplaces.

Several times, the White House and health insurance industry shifted sign-up and payment deadlines for those plans to give more flexibility to consumers who wanted health insurance that began on New Year's Day. Those plans will technically begin retroactively on Jan. 1 if policyholders meet their insurers' first payment deadline.

Many of the delays happened as the Obama administration struggled to fix HealthCare.gov, the once-troubled registration website that thwarted millions of people trying to sign up in October and November.

In the end, would-be policyholders had to choose plans by Dec. 24 in order to have coverage that began Jan. 1. Many insurers still consider this Friday, Jan. 10, to be the cutoff for the newly insured to pay their first premiums.

At least 2.1 million people signed up for private plans on ObamaCare's marketplaces by Dec. 31, according to the administration.

This figure has come under fire from critics who argue that it should be not be used to refer to enrollments under ObamaCare unless each registrant has also paid their first premium.