The industry group American’s Health Insurance Plans said Wednesday that people who sign up for coverage on the Affordable Care Act’s federal and state exchanges have until Jan. 10 to pay premiums for coverage effective Jan. 1.

Much concern had been voiced by insurance commissioners, exchange executives, brokers and more around the 8 days both insurers and consumers had to issue and pay health insurance bills. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said in late November that they were pushing back the enrollment deadline for Jan. 1 coverage to Dec. 23. Bills were originally due on Dec. 31.

An AHIP blog posting announced that the influential lobbying group’s board members had “voluntarily” made this decision, despite a report last Friday that the Obama administration had requested such a grace period.

“Our community is taking an important step to give consumers peace of mind about their health care coverage,” AHIP President and CEO Karen Ignagni said on the blog.

While leeway most significantly affects the 36 states currently enrolling consumers through the federally facilitated marketplaces, the insurance group also notably extended it to the 14 state-based marketplaces, too. “States have the flexibility to impose different deadlines ...” AHIP’s blog noted.

State exchanges
Meanwhile, FamiliesUSA, a pro-ACA health care organzition, was conducting a conference call Wednesday with several state exchange directors. During a question and answer period, it became clear that the states will take varied approaches to the offer extended by AHIP.

“National trade press releases are interesting, health is local,” said Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California. “The arrangements are local, the delivery is local, the payment is local. [With] the arrangements  we have ... consumers in California need to have paid by Jan. 6.”

Connecticut’s CEO Kevin Counihan said their deadlines also will not change with this news, while Washington’s director said he plans to meet with state-specific carriers to discuss options. AccessHealthCT's current payment deadline is Jan. 7. 

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