Georgia insurers received more than 220,000 applications for health coverage in the Affordable Care Act’s exchange as of the official federal deadline of March 31, state officials said Wednesday. Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, though, said premiums have been received for only 107,581 of those policies, which cover 149,465 people.
State officials said Tuesday that they plan to increase the number of insurers and health plan options for state employees and teachers next year. The State Health Benefit Plan (SHBP) has been a target of fierce criticism since Jan. 1. That’s when changes to its benefit design, plus the use of just one insurer, sparked widespread complaints from teachers and state employees about a lack of choice of insurance plans and higher health care costs.
The final enrollment day for the ACA insurance exchange was marred by computer glitches. The problem was a frustrating reminder of the much worse technical problems that plagued the website for weeks after it debuted in early October and November.
State insurance officials said Wednesday that 177,668 Georgians have completed applications for coverage in the health exchange as of March 15. That number, reported by health insurers in the state, reflects a recent surge in enrollees from the latest figures released by the federal government.
Roughly 100 people rallied on the steps of the state Capitol Tuesday to protest changes implemented this year to the State Health Benefit Plan for state employees and educators. Those changes have sparked a groundswell of criticism from thousands of Georgians about a lack of choice of insurance plans and higher health care costs.
State Sen. Tommie Williams and three other General Assembly members Tuesday urged their colleagues to pass legislation this year that would require private health insurance companies in Georgia to cover treatment for autism. Williams’ niece’s daughter, Ava Bullard, is the inspiration for the proposed legislation, Ava’s Law. The issue has been raised at the Legislature for the past five years, Williams said.
A state agency offered some financial relief to state employees and teachers Monday by approving changes in their health plan at a specially called board meeting. The sudden action by the Department of Community Health board follows a deluge of complaints from members of the State Health Benefit Plan, which also covers other school personnel, state retirees and dependents.
More than 58,000 Georgians signed up for health coverage in the insurance exchange by Dec. 28, a nearly tenfold jump from the enrollment figure a month before, according to a federal report released Monday. The increase reflected a more functional federal website for people to navigate, and came ahead of the deadline of late December to sign up for insurance to begin Jan. 1.
A group of state lawmakers wants Medicaid patients to help pay for their care. A Senate committee says Georgia’s current Medicaid program is financially unsustainable. This year, the General Assembly had to renew a tax on hospitals to cover a $700 million shortfall in Medicaid. Medicaid costs in Georgia are also expected to increase by more than $100 million next year, due to changes under the Affordable Care Act.
Consumers doing last-minute shopping for health insurance now have one more day. The Associated Press reports the federal government has added a one-day grace period to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act to ensure coverage before Jan. 1. The deadline is now December 24th.