As October 1 rapidly approaches, the time to prepare for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) comes to a close and the work on enrolling an implementing it begins. Exactly where is the state in it's preparations? Karen Starks was the speaker at an information session at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Tifton, Georgia on Saturday September 14th. Lots of information was provided.
Georgia opted not to set up it's own insurance exchanges, but instead to go with the federal exchanges. Georgia also foolishly opted not to accept the federal money for expanding it's Medicare roles to cover more people. This is something the Republicans in many states have begrudgingly agreed to do because it is the financially responsible thing to do. Florida's Rick Scott, Texas's Rick Perry, and Arizona's Jan Brewer have all agreed because they understand this. The federal exchanges are comprised of private insurance companies who have put in competitive bids to be included. These companies have set up policies designated as bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. On October 1, 2013 people can begin enrolling in these plans, or at the very least investigating them. The enrollment period ends on March 31, 2014. This gives people plenty of time to sort out what they need to do.
It is a complicated thing to figure out, but enrollment should be the simple part. The first step is to see if you even qualify to be a part of the exchange. If your employer or your spouse's employer offers insurance coverage, in all likelihood you will not be eligible. You may be eligible if the insurance coverage is too expensive according to the ACA guidelines. If you are a part time employee or have a low income then you will be eligible and you may get financial assistance from the government. This is based on income and number of people in your household according to your tax filings. You can begin the process of figuring this out at www.healthcare.gov. If you have access to a computer and if you can get to a public library you do, then you can go to this website and answer a few questions. These questions will guide you through the process. They will also prompt you in order to give you more information. There is a live chat that you can utilize throughout. The prompts will be good for those who are self employed because they will lead them to more information specifically geared toward them. It will lead them to their own marketplace where they can look into buying their own policy. If you do not have access to a computer there are healthcare navigators to aid you in enrollment. They are located around the state. Albany area is Albany Primary Healthcare Center is handling navigation in the Albany area. The coverage will begin on January 1, 2014.