The number of Georgians signing up for a health plan through the Affordable Care Act insurance exchange increased to 6,859 by the end of last month, up from 1,390 as of Nov. 2, federal officials announced Wednesday.
The rise in enrollees reflects, in part, a better-functioning federal website, which has been plagued with problems since ACA enrollment began Oct. 1.
Overall, 364,682 Americans have selected plans from the state and federal exchanges by the end of November, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced.
November enrollment in the federally run exchanges — used in Georgia and 35 other states — was more than four times greater than October’s reported enrollment number, HHS said.
But the numbers fall well short of the White House’s past projections of enrollment during this period.
The Georgia health insurance industry and local navigators helping to enrolling people in health plans agree that the healthcare.gov website is working better.
“There are some positive steps in the customer experience,’’ Graham Thompson of the Georgia Association of Health Plans told GHN on Wednesday. full story
Calculating the cost to taxpayers, a new study released Thursday says Georgia could see a net loss of $2.9 billion in the year 2022 if it continues to reject Medicaid expansion.
That’s because Georgia taxpayers would be paying for expansion of Medicaid in other states, while not getting anything in return, said the Commonwealth Fund study. Additional federal funds go to states that expand Medicaid.
The Supreme Court made expansion optional for states.
Only Texas and Florida would have net losses higher than Georgia among 20 states that have opted not to expand Medicaid, said the study, conducted by Sherry Glied and Stephanie Ma of New York University.
Georgia would see a net loss of $2.86 billion in 2022 if it were the only state remaining that did not increase its Medicaid program to cover more low-income adults, said the study, which takes into account the federal taxes paid by state residents for other states’ expansions.
“The Medicaid expansion presents an opportunity for states to bring in new federal dollars, in addition to providing critical health coverage for their low-income residents,” said Glied in a statement. “No state that declines to expand the program is going to be fiscally better off because of it. Their tax dollars will be used to support a program from which nobody in their state will benefit.” full story
The percentage of Georgia children who are uninsured has declined, but the state still has the fourth-highest number of kids without coverage, according to a report released Wednesday.
In raw numbers, Georgia has nearly 220,000 children who are uninsured, trailing only Texas, California and Florida, said the report from Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families. All three of those states have much higher populations than Georgia.
Just six states — the four previously mentioned plus Arizona and North Carolina — are home to half of the 5.3 million uninsured children in the United States.
The report, “Children’s Health Coverage on the Eve of the Affordable Care Act,” found the number of uninsured kids nationally has continued to decline. Joan Alker of Georgetown told reporters Wednesday that the decrease is largely due to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Nationally, the uninsured rate of adults — 20.6 percent — far exceeds that of kids, at 7.2 percent. full story
Officials in the state’s insurance industry were busy Friday puzzling over what exactly President Obama’s decision on canceled policies means for them and their customers.
“This is going to be a very confusing customer experience,’’ said Graham Thompson, executive director of the Georgia Association of Health Plans, an industry trade group.
Obama’s decision, announced Thursday, lets insurers continue offering individual plans for another year, even if they don’t meet the Affordable Care Act’s minimum benefits.
In Georgia, to a large extent, this option is already available: Most insurers here are allowing individual consumers to renew their plan before Jan. 1 and avoid the ACA’s benefits requirements.
Thompson said the industry expects to learn much more about the White House’s policy shift when federal officials issue rules on the canceled policies, expected soon.
Meanwhile, state Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens issued a statement blasting the Obama decision as “nothing more than a political stunt designed to remove the growing momentum towards much-needed change and shift the blame from the president’s flawed health care reform.” full story
President Obama’s decision Thursday to allow people to renew their canceled insurance policies for a year appears to have left as many questions as answers among health care analysts.
Facing a storm of criticism about canceled policies, Obama announced an administrative change to let insurers continue offering individual plans for another year, even if they don’t meet the Affordable Care Act’s minimum benefits.
In Georgia, to a large extent, such a remedy is already available. Many health insurers in Georgia are allowing individuals to retain their policies through late 2014.
GHN reported earlier this month that most Georgia insurers are letting consumers have an option to renew their plan before Jan. 1 and avoid the ACA’s benefits requirements.
President Obama signs the health law in 2010
Obama’s announcement came a day after federal officials released enrollment figures for the health insurance exchanges. In Georgia, 1,390 have signed up for a health plan through the exchange, the Department of Health and Human Services said.
But Glenn Allen, a spokesman for state Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, said Thursday that based on Georgia insurers’ data, the number of applicants who have given sufficient information to enroll through healthcare.gov is actually 536.
How the year’s extension of canceled policies will play out nationally is unclear. Insurance industry officials and experts expressed concern that the policy shift could lead to higher premiums. full story