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...

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.

Ralph Hudgens

Ralph Hudgens

Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, though, said premiums have been received for only 107,581 of those policies, which cover 149,465 people.

“Many Georgians completed the application process by the deadline, but have yet to pay for the coverage,” Hudgens said in a statement Wednesday.

March 31 was the official deadline for individuals to get insurance coverage or face a financial penalty under the ACA. Yet because of the deluge of last-minute shoppers, federal officials relaxed the rules for those who reported having trouble with the exchange, and gave them into this week to sign up.

Given that extra time, there have presumably been more Georgians both signing up and paying for their premiums in April. They would not be included in the figures released Wednesday.

The Insurance Department said it surveyed the five health insurers (Alliant, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Humana, Kaiser and Peach State) conducting business on the exchange to determine how many Georgians would be covered.

The number of Georgia applications – 221,604 – was a big jump in two weeks from the 177,668 that completed applications by March 15.

Almost all of those policies’ purchasers will receive a federal subsidy to afford the coverage, Hudgens’ office said.

The number of Georgians who have applied is still far short of the estimated 650,000 who are eligible for subsidies in the health insurance exchange.

Graham Thompson of the Georgia Association of Health Plans said that the insurance industry recognized that subsidies “would be a tremendous driver of behavior. That has borne true.”

“We’re happy that these folks have signed up for our plans,’’ Thompson said.

He noted that the health plans must analyze the information about enrollees and “turn on a dime’’ to set premiums for the 2015 plan year.

Hudgens has long been a staunch opponent of the ACA, also known as Obamacare. And in the press release, his office noted that the insurance department estimated that about 400,000 Georgians could lose their current health insurance coverage because their policies failed to meet new mandates required by the ACA.

Hudgens encouraged insurers to extend those policies until 2016, but his office noted in the press release that it’s unknown how many of the enrollees were forced into the exchange because of policy cancellations.

Cindy Zeldin of Georgians for a Healthy Future, a group that supports the ACA, pointed out that many people whose policies were canceled could have obtained coverage in other ways, such as through policies not bought on the exchange, through employer plans, or with Medicaid eligibility.

Still, Zeldin said, the enrollment number in Georgia “is a good start. We are encouraged.”

“The number of uninsured is going down,’’ she said.

Politico reported Wednesday that states that have expanded Medicaid and opened their own exchanges have seen a higher rate of decline in the number of uninsured, compared to other states, according to a new poll.

Georgia is one of the states where there has been no expansion. Gov. Nathan Deal and the leadership of the General Assembly are united against expanding Medicaid, citing the costs of such a move. They have also opted not to have the state operate the exchange in Georgia, letting the federal government do so.

Zeldin said more work must be done to reduce the large number of uninsured in Georgia.

She added, “We’ll get a more full picture [of the ACA’s effect] in the coming months.”

 


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Andy Miller

Andy Miller is editor and CEO of Georgia Health News

  • GraceD

    April 17, 2014 #4 Author

    Is Hudgins up for reelection this year? This is one person for sure, that needs to be replaced. or lets just say: Fired! What a poor excuse for a “so called “leader. & ins. commissioner. Because of his failures to do his job, Ga. citizens will pay much more for healthcare insurance.
    Some states did not allow the huge jumps that this jerk did.

    Reply

  • JeffDeWitt

    April 21, 2014 #9 Author

    What “failures to do his job”? The real failure is in Washington not in the states, certainly not Georgia or NC that were smart enough not to play along and build their own exchanges and expand Medicaid.

    Reply

  • Killary Clottin’

    April 21, 2014 #21 Author

    November elections will be a dimcrat bloodbath.

    Good!

    Reply

    • civisisus

      April 22, 2014 #22 Author

      “logicians” like you also forecast Romney in a landslide

      Reply

  • Paul Mullen

    April 21, 2014 #23 Author

    Since 44,000 applications were made after March 15th, those policies don’t start until May, which is when the premiums will be due. So you have payments for 107,000 out of 177,000. To that you have to add all the checks that were mailed before the end of the month but not yet processed. In addition, many will choose to pay by bank direct debit, I know that Humana does not debit bank accounts until the 4th of each month, and I suspect that other insurers do the same. So is not surprising that companies have not received payment before the end of the previous month. Other sources indicate that 85% to 90% do pay, so why would Georgia be so different?

    Reply

  • Paul Mullen

    April 21, 2014 #24 Author

    Odd, on March 26th you reported that Hudgens announced on March 21st that 144,665 (out of 177,668 enrolled by March 15th) had paid. That 177,668 appears to be individuals not families. So how come it has only risen by 5,000 individuals by the end of the month?

    Reply

    • Yancey Ward

      April 21, 2014 #25 Author

      I think the first article is conflating applications and people covered. The second article seems to go to pains to clarify it.

      Reply

    • Yancey Ward

      April 21, 2014 #26 Author

      Also, earlier policies may well be falling out due to non-payment of second and third premiums.

      Reply

    • Yancey Ward

      April 21, 2014 #27 Author

      I think what has happened is that people are confusing “applications” with “enrollees”. The two articles are consistent in usage- on March 26th, Georgia had 177K applications (for X number of potential enrollees) and 145K enrollees (from Y number of paid-for applications). The later article, however, adds the additional information that of 220K applications, only 108K have been paid for giving 150K enrollees.

      The increase of only 5K enrollees suggests two things- most of the 50K additional applications haven’t even been billed for yet, and cannot increase the enrollee number. Also, it is clear that in 2 weeks, not many of the previous non-payers converted into payers. Based on the two articles, Georgia appears to have about a 60% payment rate. By May 1st, we should have a clearer picture now that enrollment is closed.

      Reply

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