Subscribe to The Pulse

Health Reform

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:

YouTube Preview Image

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

Navigators aided consumers in need, report shows

Consumers in Georgia and three other states who were helped by navigators for the 2014 insurance exchanges tended to be people of color who were not financially secure, a recently released report says.

Navigators, who are specially trained in the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, provide face-to-face, in-person help for consumers seeking information about health insurance policies in the state exchanges, also called marketplaces.

The report by the University of Georgia also said many consumers helped by Seedco navigators in the four states had limited knowledge about health insurance concepts.

Sidney Wood meets with navigator Amanda Ptashkin in March.

A consumer meets with Atlanta-based Seedco navigator Amanda Ptashkin in March.

Seedco, a nonprofit group, was the lead organization in Georgia supplying navigators during the last Open Enrollment period for the ACA insurance exchanges. It also provided these counselors in Tennessee, New York and Maryland, and will do so again in the new enrollment period, which starts next month.

A UGA unit was the second Georgia navigator grantee group last year, but it is barred from participating this time by a newly passed state law. Top Georgia officials have been strongly critical of the ACA and have worked to limit official state involvement in its programs.

The UGA report found that among consumers in the four states helped by Seedco navigators, almost two-thirds (64.5%) were people of color. African-Americans were especially prevalent among these Georgia consumers. About 10 percent of consumers preferred to speak a language other than English. full story

Poll: Georgians like expansion, but not ACA overall

A new poll finds 60 percent of Georgians disagree with the state’s decision not to expand the state’s Medicaid program, a key provision of the Affordable Care Act.

The health reform law overall, though, fares less well in popularity. According to the survey, conducted by the Schapiro Group in August and sponsored by Healthcare Georgia Foundation, 42 percent of Georgians approve of the ACA and 46 percent disapprove.

Healthcare CostThe survey also found that the cost of care continues to be an important factor in whether consumers receive health care. Forty-two percent of Georgians said they wanted to seek care at some point, but chose not to do so, up from 33 percent the year before. Cost was the most cited reason for that decision.

And 40 percent of the 400 respondents said they think they have paid more for care over the past year.

“As the troubling trend of increased health care costs continues, Georgians who cannot afford health insurance are simply unable to seek or choosing not to seek the medical care they need,” said Gary Nelson, president of Healthcare Georgia Foundation. full story

Will map of ACA enrollment look different in 2015?

In health insurance, to a great extent, price is king.

The monthly premium that people will have to pay for insurance is a pivotal factor in how they pick a health plan – or whether they choose to buy coverage at all.

The apparent impact of the cost of premiums is noticeable in the enrollment patterns in Georgia’s insurance exchange, as seen in the first year of its existence under the Affordable Care Act.

A map of exchange enrollment in Georgia in 2014 shows generally low participation rates in rural South Georgia, even though these counties have high percentages of uninsured residents.

Map of Georgia exchange enrollment in 2014. Credit: Enroll America

Map of Georgia exchange enrollment in 2014. Credit: Enroll America

For the current plan year, southwest Georgia in particular had high premiums compared with other Georgia regions. In fact, it had among the highest premiums in the nation.

Two southwestern regions had monthly premiums of $345 and $377 for a particular Silver plan for a 21-year-old, Bill Custer, a health insurance expert at Georgia State University, told reporters in Atlanta on Tuesday. full story

  • Sign up for our mailing list.