(Adds time reference in paragraph 2)
WASHINGTON, April 2 (Reuters) - A leading federation of Blue Cross and Blue Shield health plans said on Wednesday that it is receiving premium payments from 80 to 85 percent of its new Obamacare health insurance customers.
The estimate, released by the Chicago-based Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, reflects enrollment activity among 35 Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in 47 of the 50 states, including plans sold by WellPoint Inc, from Oct. 1 through Feb. 1.
That data could help shed light on the integrity of administration figures that show 7.1 million people have signed up for private health insurance under President Barack Obama's landmark healthcare reform law.
Republicans and other critics of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act say the enrollment total, which surpassed most forecasts, could be inflated by people who signed up for coverage but never officially enrolled by making their first month's payment.
If the Blue Cross Blue Shield payment rates held true for enrollment across the board, between 5.7 million and 6 million of the 7.1 million would actually be enrolled in coverage.
The Blue Cross Blue Shield Association did not say how many of those who have signed up for coverage under Obamacare are new customers. (Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)