Millions of Americans now choose between health care and basic needs. The Affordable Care Act is designed to help. But is Georgia ready for it? Some in Chatham County say they still have questions but not many resources.
Georgia's medium-sized cities aren't entirely on their own when it comes to enrollment help under the Affordable Care Act. Federal health navigator grants went to organizations based either in Metro Atlanta or in Georgia's smallest communities. Places in the middle, such as Savannah and Columbus, weren't part of the recent award.
About 100 people in Georgia are preparing this week for October 1 and the opening of a new health insurance exchange. These workers will help eligible Georgians navigate the online marketplace and figure out what coverage they need and how much help they can expect from the government to pay for it.
Online healthcare insurance exchanges will open in less than two weeks, but some local organizations are still working to prepare their “healthcare navigators.” Those navigators will be trained specialists who can guide consumers through the online insurance marketplace to buy coverage.
A new Families USA report says 800,000 Georgians can get a tax break when they buy a health insurance plan through new health care exchanges. The amount is determined by income and the cost of the premiums.
A federal agency says Georgia, along with a dozen other states, falls short in offering consumers appeal options when they can’t get health insurance. The states must make fixes by January 1st. The national health reform law calls for a broader range of appeals options for people who can’t get coverage or payment on a claim. That means more consumers for the first time will have the right to have an independent panel review their case.
The US Health and Human Services Department will take another 30 days to decide whether Georgia can phase in a key provision of health care reform more slowly. Georgia officials wants Georgia exempt from a part of the law until 2014. The provision requires insurance firms to spend no more than 20% of individual premiums on administration and certain other costs.
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.
Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens says, he doubts the state would be able to opt-out of the federal health care law early. Some Georgia health care advocates agree, saying the provision was aimed at states like Vermont that already have near-universal coverage. A spokeswoman for Governor Nathan Deal, however, welcomed the flexibility and promised a plan.