Obamacare in Georgia
Radio Commentary, 90.7, 91.7 New Life FM, November 15, 2013 – By Sue Ella Deadwyler
Good morning, Jim. Since Georgia Obamacare premiums vary from place to place, the cost of your premiums depends on which of the 16 insurance regions you call home. Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens said insurance rates in Georgia will increase nearly 200 percent for some folks and self-employed or small business owners will face increases up to 25 percent.
Health insurance experts identify Atlanta as one of Georgia’s lower premium cost regions, while insurance in southwest Georgia could be up to 40 percent higher for the same plan. Individuals between age 26 and 35 could pay $316 per month in Atlanta and $4 more in Macon, but in southwestern Mitchell County the same coverage for that age group would cost $466.
In September, Georgia community health providers were still unsure how to implement the federal health exchange, since Georgia is one of 26 states that chose NOT to set up a state exchange. Also in September, the Better Business Bureau warned that scammers may call asking for your bank account number and other personal information, to set you up for a phony “Affordable Care Card.” To that, the Better Business Bureau said, “Legitimate government officials will never call and ask for personal information over the phone.”Obamacare’s service representatives called “navigators” were hired to help 16 million people or small businesses find insurance to fit their needs, but so far, most of them signed up for Medicaid. Georgians might be a little more protected with the passage of H.B. 198 last session, requiring navigators to be at least 18 years old, of high moral character and submit any criminal record they might have. Applicants that pass those standards must be trained and pass an exam before they are certified and receive a license. Navigators are paid with federal funds through grants to community organizations that hire them. In addition to navigators, federally funded “application counselors” and “in-person assisters” are available to provide additional enrollment help.
In August the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services signed cooperative agreements with 105 entities, including the University of Georgia, to serve 34 federally facilitated and state partnership marketplaces. Georgia’s Health Navigator program is overseen by UGA Extension and the college faculty. Every UGA extension office can direct consumers to the insurance exchange.
After hearing reports that personal information of 200,000 individuals was accidentally released opening day of the exchanges, Senator Judson Hill held a hearing in October to discuss the risk of fraud. Although Senator Hill is an opponent of Obamacare, he said, “My motive is grave concern for all Georgians. We’re not here to pick on the federal exchanges.” You may find more information on exchanges and navigators at www.ganavigators.org. For Georgia Insight I’m Sue Ella Deadwyler, your Capitol correspondent.