Despite generous subsidies, people aren't yet flocking to enroll in Marketplace health insurance plans either in Augusta or nationally. But those that have gotten coverage have scored some deals, including monthly premiums for about the price of a candy bar, assisters said.
The American Rescue Plan passed earlier this year is providing enhanced subsidies for those who make up to 150% of the Federal Poverty Level to the point where their premiums may be $0 per month, according to the Center on Health Insurance Reforms.
One person who enrolled recently at Christ Community Health Services will end up paying $1.12 in monthly premiums, said Shanon Pisano, patient financial counselor.
Everyone that has enrolled so far has "had some pretty affordable options," said Susan Melican, director of patient financial services for Christ Community Health. Those families can also add dental and vision coverage, "which makes it extremely nice," she said.
Despite those incentives, Open Enrollment, which began Nov. 1, got off to a slow start nationwide. In the first week, 773,557 people enrolled in coverage for 2022 but that included 640,283 who were re-enrolling in their plans, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Part of that may be due to 2.1 million who enrolled in Marketplace plans through Aug. 15 this year during the Special Enrollment Period. New enrollment numbers are for the 33 states who use the Healthcare.gov portal for enrollment, while other states run their own and are counted separately.
But many of those that LaShanda Johnson Green encountered in her first forays to enroll people could not take advantage of the more generous subsidies.
"What I'm finding now is people who actually do need health insurance don't make enough" to qualify for subsidies, said Green, community outreach manager for Medical Associates Plus in Augusta.
In Georgia, because the state has not expanded Medicaid, people who earn less than 100% of the Federal Poverty Level do not qualify for those subsidies. That would be those who earn less than $12,880 a year or $26,500 for a family of four, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Those 12 states that have not expanded Medicaid account for a significant percentage of both adults and children who were uninsured through June of this year, according to preliminary figures released Tuesday from the National Center for Health Statistics. About 9.6% of the U.S. was uninsured, including 14% of adults ages 18-64 and 4.4% of children, the report found. But those adults under age 65 in states that had not expanded Medicaid were nearly twice as likely to be uninsured as those in expansion states, 20.6% vs. 10.6%, the report showed.
The new report did not include population figures or a breakdown by states. But an earlier report looking at data from 2019 found that of the 29.6 million uninsured Americans, more than half or 14.6 million lived in states that had not expanded Medicaid. Of those, the majority — 10.6 million — lived in four states, Georgia, Florida, Texas and North Carolina. Georgia had 1.4 million uninsured then, and Medicaid expansion would have covered nearly half of them, according to the report.
Open Enrollment in Marketplace health insurance plans began Nov. 1 and runs through Jan. 15, 2022. You must enroll by Dec. 15 to have coverage begin on Jan. 1. To enroll online, go to Healthcare.gov if you live in Georgia or South Carolina. Or call 1-800-318-2596.
For information about getting help in Augusta enrolling in a Marketplace plan, call Shanon Pisano at Christ Community Health Services at (706) 922-0600.
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