“This has been moving at lightning speed, and it makes really big changes to our healthcare system,” said Cindy Zeldin, executive director of Georgians for a Healthy Future.
Blog (May 2012)
Governor Deal signed HB 1166 (sponsored by Representative Atwood) into law on May 1st. The legislation requires insurance companies who sell policies in the individual health insurance market to also sell child-only plans during an open enrollment period. These plans had previously been available in Georgia, but insurance companies stopped writing new policies in response to a change in federal law that prohibited discrimination against children due to pre-existing conditions. HB 1166 drew widespread support and Georgians for a Healthy Future was proud to be a part of the coalition effort that ensured its passage.
Two recent studies highlight the need for statewide strategies to improve access to care in Georgia. Last week, Kaiser Health News reported that Georgia was one of three states with the greatest increase in the number of people with unmet medical need over the past decade. Back in April, USA Today reported on a study of community health centers that found Georgia was the only state to rank at the bottom on 4 of 6 performance measures.
A provision of the Affordable Care Act requires health insurance companies in the individual market to spend at least 80 percent of premium dollars on medical care or quality improvement activities (it is 85 percent in the group market). Georgia insurance companies were permitted to phase this requirement in for the individual market over three years (requiring them to spend at least 70 cents on the premium dollar on actual health care in 2011, 75 cents on the dollar in 2012, and 80 cents on the dollar in 2013.) Designed to spur greater transparency, value, and accountability, the provision also requires insurance companies who do not meet this reasonable standard to issue rebates to consumers. As a direct result of this provision, Georgia consumers will receive an estimated $30 million in rebates this year. State-by-state information about anticipated rebates is available here, and a report from Georgia Health News is available here.
As of May 1, 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services, which administers high-risk insurance pools in twenty-four states including Georgia, reverted to its original requirements. In order to enroll in the program, applicants must submit one of the following pieces of documentation:
- A denial letter from an insurer
- An offer of coverage from an insurer that includes a pre-existing condition clause
- A letter from a broker or agent that states the individual would be denied coverage
Applicants must still be uninsured for six months before enrolling in the PCIP, a provision that has not changed since the program began. The Department will also end the $100 broker referral bonus, which began in spring of 2011, as an incentive to increase enrollment.
As of February 2012, 56,257 people were enrolled in the 24 states that participate in the federal PCIP. In Georgia, 1,707 people have been enrolled since August 2010.
National Women’s Health Week is a weeklong health observance coordinated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health. It brings together communities, businesses, government, health organizations, and other groups in an effort to promote women’s health. The theme for 2012 is “It’s Your Time.” National Women’s Health Week empowers women to make their health a top priority. (more…)