Fri., July 8, 2011 12:00am (EDT)

State Requests Healthcare Waiver
By Melissa Stiers
Updated: 3 years ago

ATLANTA  —  
About 350,000 Georgians are on individual health insurance. (photo by Michael Tam via flickr)
About 350,000 Georgians are on individual health insurance. (photo by Michael Tam via flickr)
Eighty percent of what people pay for health insurance is required to go towards medical care. That’s a new mandate under the Affordable Care Act Congress passed last year. But that’s not the case for most Georgians with individual plans, because the state has asked for a waiver.

Insurance Commissioner Republican Ralph Hudgens wants to phase in the requirement because he’s concerned it will push smaller insurers out.

Russ Childers with the Georgia Association of Health Underwriters says it could also cut into the payment of insurance agents who are already seeing lower commissions.

"There won’t be as many insurance agents available to you to call and ask questions. Insurance agents are less likely to spend a lot of time with you deciding what kind of coverage you want and those kinds of things," says Childers.

But Cindy Zeldin with Georgians for a Healthy Future says the mandate will ensure premiums are paying mostly for health care, rather than going towards a company’s marketing costs or profits.

"It’s to provide transparency about how insurance companies spend premium dollars and to spur insurance companies to operate more efficiently in the market," says Zeldin.

About 350,000 Georgians are on individual health insurance.

The Department of Health and Human Services is accepting public comment on the waiver for ten days.

If it’s granted, the 80 percent mandate won’t fully take effect until 2014.

If it’s denied, consumers will see an average rebate of about 100 dollars next year from their health insurance provider.