Last week, health insurance premiums for the Marketplace were a hot topic, as Georgia’s Insurance Commissioner released some information about the rates that insurance companies proposed for the Marketplace. Georgians for a Healthy Future was frequently cited in media coverage of this issue, drawing attention to the fact that many consumers who were shut out of the market in the past would now be able to purchase insurance for the first time, with hefty tax credits that will make these plans affordable.
This issue was covered by the Atlanta Journal- Constitution, Georgia Health News, The Augusta Chronicle, and WSAV-Savannah. Articles featuring comments by Georgians for a Healthy Future’s Executive Director are available below.
Some Warn Exchanges Will Raise Insurance Rates
WSAV | August 5, 2013
State grudgingly OKs insurance rates for exchange
Georgia Health News | August 1, 2013
State OKs new rates for insurance exchange
Atlanta Journal-Constitution | August 1, 2013
Georgia seeks delay on high health care premium approvals
Augusta Chronicle | July 30, 2013
State seeks delay on rate approval for exchanges
Georgia Health News | July 30, 2013
The Commission on Mandated Health Benefits, created through legislation passed in 2011 to advise the governor and the General Assembly on the social and financial impact of current and proposed mandated benefits and providers, held its first meeting on March 12th. The meeting was largely an organizational one, but members also discussed how the commission’s work might intersect with aspects of the Affordable Care Act such as essential health benefits and the bills before the General Assembly that would require insurance companies to cover autism, child hearing aids, and medical foods. The next meeting date has not yet been announced. To read the minutes from the March 12th meeting, click here.
Earlier this year, Governor Deal signed into law House Bill 1166 to restore child-only health insurance plans to the Georgia marketplace. The legislation was sponsored by Representative Atwood and supported by a broad coalition of consumer health advocates, health care industry stakeholders, and legislators, including Georgians for a Healthy Future. The law goes into effect on January 1, 2013, and will make standalone insurance policies for children available through an open enrollment period in January or in the event of a qualifying event throughout the year. The Georgia Department of Insurance is currently preparing the draft regulation, after which there will be a public comment period with the final regulation expected in December.
Several states around the country have taken similar action to make these plans available for children, and earlier this month the Commonwealth Fund issued a report examining legislative and regulatory efforts around the country during 2010 and 2011 and found that, in states that had taken action during those years, child-only coverage is now available in nearly all of those states. Since Georgia’s legislation was passed in 2012 and has not yet gone into effect it was not included in the analysis; however, the authors interviewed officials and advocates in Georgia and noted that legislation had been signed into law in 2012. Kaiser Health News also reported on the story last week. That article is available here. The study is available here.
The ruling from the United States Supreme Court affirming the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act is an exciting victory for Georgia’s health care consumers. When the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented, no one in Georgia will be denied health insurance due to a pre-existing condition. All Georgians will have a pathway to coverage and the peace of mind that comes from knowing that their families are protected. Georgians for a Healthy Future looks forward to working collaboratively with state policymakers and stakeholders to fully implement the Affordable Care Act to ensure it meets its promise of access to quality, affordable health care for all Georgians.
Georgians for a Healthy Future has a new fact sheet out today about how to access health insurance in Georgia. Please share with patients, consumers, providers, community organizations, or anyone for whom it can serve as a resource. The fact sheet can be downloaded by clicking here.
By Cindy Zeldin
The Pre-Existing Condition Plan (PCIP) is a new health insurance option for uninsured Georgians who have been denied insurance because of a pre-existing condition. The PCIP, authorized by the Affordable Care Act, is intended to provide coverage for consumers who are locked out of the insurance market due to a pre-existing condition. To be eligible, applicants to the PCIP must be uninsured for at least six months and have a letter of denial from a private insurer. As of February 1st of this year, 399 Georgians had signed up for coverage through the PCIP. The premiums are subsidized entirely with federal dollars and no state funds are associated with the program. In fact, the Governor’s FY 2012 budget proposal realizes savings of $680,263 from the movement of previously uninsured hemophilia patients who had been accessing life-saving drugs through a state program into the PCIP, where those drugs are now covered. You can download our new fact sheet on the PCIP here.
By Cindy Zeldin and Joann Yoon
On Election Day, Georgia voters will head to the polls to elect our state’s policymakers. Most voters are familiar with certain elected offices, like that of Governor, but many Georgians may be unaware of the importance, or perhaps even the existence, of the Office of State Insurance Commissioner.
The Insurance Commissioner runs the Georgia Department of Insurance and is elected every four years in a statewide vote. Among the core functions the Department of Insurance performs is the regulation of health insurance in Georgia. The Insurance Commissioner ensures that companies selling individual and small group policies in Georgia are financially solvent and enforces consumer protections and state laws regarding benefits that private insurers must include in policies sold in Georgia.
With the recent enactment of the Affordable Care Act, the new health care law, the role of the Insurance Commissioner has expanded. Our next Insurance Commissioner’s decisions will play an important role in shaping Georgia’s health insurance system for consumers in 2011 and well into the future.
By Amanda Ptashkin
Two weeks ago, Georgians for a Healthy Future co-released a report with Families USA that quantified the number of Georgians who, absent health care reform, would be at risk of a denial of coverage based on their pre-existing health conditions. See our guest blog posting on Beyond the Tressle for more details about the findings of the report. However, this posting is not about the statistics–it is about the people behind them.