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Health Reform

Exchange workers put priority on Latino outreach

Maria Espinoza came to a Doraville middle school Saturday looking to repeat what she called her “good experience’’ in the Affordable Care Act exchange.

Maria Espinoza

Maria Espinoza

Espinoza, 35, a construction worker, said through an interpreter that her ACA coverage for this year had worked out well, and that it was inexpensive.  Enrollment is now under way for next year.

Sequoyah Middle School, where Espinoza came to sign up,  was one of several metro Atlanta sites staffed by navigators, or insurance counselors, and by Enroll America personnel on the first day of open enrollment for the exchange.

With 80 percent of its students being Latino, the school was a logical place to do outreach to that population, which have high numbers of uninsured people.

The Latino community has proved at times difficult to reach, despite members’ need for coverage.

Georgia’s Latino/Hispanic population, which was small for most of the state’s history, has grown strongly and steadily since about 1990. They now constitute about 8 percent of the state’s population, but they account for 17 percent of the uninsured in Georgia. full story

What to expect in Year 2 of ACA enrollment

The Affordable Care Act exchange, which begins its second open enrollment period this Saturday, will offer many Georgians lower prices this time around.

Bill Custer, a health insurance expert at Georgia State University, said Thursday that the average premium statewide for a 40-year-old nonsmoker for the second-lowest “silver” plan will rise by 2 percent from the 2014 figure.

healthcaregovBut in some Georgia regions, the premium for that plan will drop by double-digit rates, he said.

Still, people looking for a second year of coverage in the exchange – or to get a policy for the first time – need to pay attention to many factors besides premiums. Deductibles, co-insurance, prescription drug coverage, and whether specific hospitals and physicians are in a network are among the major considerations.

One thing is almost certain: Healthcare.gov, the federal enrollment website, will work more smoothly during this enrollment period. Last year, the site was plagued with massive technical problems – so much so the federal government extended the open enrollment window. full story

Latest ACA court case reverberates in Georgia

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Friday to take up a case challenging the subsidies in the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges could wind up having a huge impact in Georgia.

The federal subsidies help millions of Americans afford health insurance offered in the exchanges, which were created as part of the health reform law.

The U.S. Supreme Court made Medicaid expansion optional for states..

According to the plaintiffs, those subsidies are improperly being given in the more than 30 states, including Georgia, that have decided not to run their own insurance exchanges. The federal government runs the exchanges in those states.

If the Supreme Court strikes down subsidies in federally run exchanges, it almost certainly would cause those marketplaces to collapse unless the states step in to run them.

In Georgia, however, that is not legally possible. This year, the Georgia General Assembly passed legislation that bars the state from running an ACA exchange. That prohibition was among other anti-Obamacare provisions that were signed into law. full story

A campaign debate on Obamacare

Arguments for and against the Affordable Care Act dominated the debate last Sunday between candidates for Georgia’ insurance commissioner post.

Incumbent Ralph Hudgens, a Republican, faced off against Democrat Liz Johnson and Ted Metz, a Libertarian, in the Atlanta Press Club debate.

Here’s the video of it:

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Commentary: This is not Europe

Socialized, European-style health care.

That’s one of the descriptions of the Affordable Care Act offered by critics of the health reform law.

Katja Ridderbusch

Katja Ridderbusch

In a new GHN Commentary, a German journalist says the issue is not that simple. She notes how health care systems in Europe differ from one another and how they differ from the U.S. system under Obamacare.

Many Americans view the government requirement to buy insurance as “a constraint on their personal freedom,’’  Katja Ridderbusch writes in her Commentary.

But she adds that “most Europeans view mandatory insurance as peace of mind, providing the freedom of not having to worry about exploding medical costs and instead, being able to focus on whatever they consider important in their lives.”

Here is a link to her Commentary.

Georgia Health News welcomes Commentary submissions. If you would like to propose a Commentary piece for Georgia Health News, please email Andy Miller, editor of GHN, at amiller@georgiahealthnews.com

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