“The delay of Georgia’s proposed reinsurance program is a disappointment for Georgia consumers who are looking forward to premium relief,’’ said Laura Colbert of the consumer advocacy group Georgians for…
Blog (May 2020)
Month: May 2020
An estimated 1.4 million Georgians have lost their health coverage due to job loss. If this is your situation, you can keep yourself and your family covered during this health crisis.
You have three main pathways to coverage:
- Affordable Care Act (ACA) coverage
- With financial assistance—half of Georgians who lose their insurance (775,000) will qualify for ACA coverage with financial help to lower the costs of monthly premiums and, in some cases, deductibles & co-pays.
- Without financial assistance—some Georgians, despite a job loss, will still make too much for financial help but you should still shop for coverage to see if there’s a plan that fits your new budget.
- Medicaid & PeachCare for Kids—About 25% of Georgians losing their health coverage may qualify for Medicaid. Georgians most likely to qualify for Medicaid coverage after a job loss include children, low-income pregnant women, and very low-income parents. Other Georgians who qualify for Medicaid are people with disabilities, seniors, and low-income women with breast or cervical cancer.
- COBRA—in most cases, you will be able to find less expensive coverage from the ACA marketplace. COBRA may be the best option for you if it is important that you maintain a consistent provider (pregnant women, people with chronic or complex conditions).
Some Georgians who have lost their health coverage due to job loss will fall in Georgia’s coverage gap because the state has not expanded Medicaid. This brings the total number of Georgians in the coverage gap to 436,000 (likely on the low end).
If you are in the coverage gap because you lost your job, please read the “If you are uninsured” section below. Then contact Georgians for a Healthy Future at 404-567-5016 x 2 to learn how you can share your story and help fix the problem!
Affordable Care Act (ACA) coverage
You may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period up to 60 days after losing your job-based health insurance. You only qualify for coverage for 60 days after you lose your health coverage, so shop and enroll as soon as possible. Visit healthcare.gov to shop and enroll.
Financial assistance is available!
When you begin the shopping/enrollment process, healthcare.gov will ask you about your estimated income for 2020 and will let you know if you qualify for financial help to lower your premiums and other cost-sharing. Most Georgians qualify for financial help!
When you estimate your income, include the money you made from your job before you were laid off, any unemployment checks that you expect to receive, and any money that you expect to make from getting re-hired/a new job later in the year. Do not count your stimulus check as income!
For free help with the enrollment process, contact these organizations:
- Insure Georgia, insurega.org, 866-988-8246
- The Health Initiative, thehealthinitiative.org, 404-688-2524 (leave a voicemail in the general mailbox)— The Health Initiative may be especially helpful if you are an LGBTQ+ individual or if your health insurance covers an LGBTQ+ individual
Coverage through the ACA marketplace covers testing for COVID-19. It will also cover part or all of the costs related to COVID-19 treatment. Contact your insurance company for more information.
Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids
You can enroll yourself, your family, or your children in Medicaid or CHIP at any time, if you qualify. Enroll at gateway.ga.gov.
Children are most likely to qualify for Medicaid and PeachCare. Pregnant women and some parents may be eligible for Medicaid coverage depending on your monthly income. (The amount of unemployment that you get from Georgia counts as income but the additional $600 per week from the federal govt does not.)
Click here to see if you can qualify as a parent and to see if your kids qualify. If you are pregnant, you must make less than these amounts to qualify for Medicaid:
Medicaid is required to cover COVID-19 testing and treatment for free. In addition, you do not have to pay any Medicaid or PeachCare premiums or co-pays during the COVID-19 national emergency.
If you have or enroll in Medicaid coverage, you cannot lose that coverage or be disenrolled during the COVID-19 national emergency.
If you have questions about Medicaid and whether you qualify, call the Georgia Division for Family & Children Services at 877-423-4746.
You may also contact Atlanta Legal Aid (find the phone number for your county here) or Georgia Legal Services Program at 1-800-498-9469 with questions or concerns.
If you are uninsured/unable to get health coverage
Do not skip or avoid health care just because you are uninsured! You can get free or low-cost health services at:
- Community Health Centers—find the clinics closest to you here
- Charity Care Clinics—find the clinic closest to you here
- Health care over the phone/online (telehealth)—Giving Health offers free telehealth services to people who are uninsured. Visit givinghealth.org/how-it-works or call 866-662-1923.
- Check with your local hospital to see what financial assistance programs you may qualify for
References & resources
COVID-19 Town Hall PowerPoint slides by Center on Budget & Policy Priorities
Frequently Asked Questions by Center on Budget & Policy Priorities
A recent poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 45% of Americans reported that the COVID-19 crisis has harmed their mental health. Anxiety and fear are common with people concerned about contracting the virus, a loved one getting sick, and the economic impact of the crisis, including job loss, lost income, and loss of health care coverage.
Georgia non-profits and state agencies have come together to ensure resources and supports are available for Georgians who need help with their mental health. The following list provides information and links to resources to help get all of us through these difficult times.
If you need to talk to someone:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Call 1-800-273-8255 or use the chat option on their webpage
en Espanol: 888-628-9454
Deaf and hard-of-hearing: 1-800-799-4889
Open 24/7. We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.
- Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network’s Peer2Peer Warm Line
Open 24/7/365 providing peer support over the phone. Support is available to all Georgians experiencing anxiety or stress, or who need support through the pandemic. Please call any time.
- Georgia Council on Substance Abuse’s CARES Warm Line
Call or text 844-326-5400
Open every day, 8:30 am to 11 pm. FREE, confidential, and available to anyone who has questions about addiction and recovery, needs someone to listen to them or wants to talk with someone who is also in recovery from substance use disorders.
- Georgia COVID-19 Emotional support line
Open 24/7. This confidential line offers assistance for those needing emotional support or resource information as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The support line is staffed by volunteers, including mental health professionals and others who have been trained in crisis counseling. This is part of a partnership between the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities, Beacon Health Options, and Behavioral Health Link.
If you need a support group:
- The Georgia Council on Substance Abuse is offering a FREE and confidential series of virtual All Recovery Meetings for those who want to stay connected during COVID-19. To learn more about GCSA and find the most up-to-date meeting times, visit their FaceBook page.
- NAMI Georgia and their local chapters around the state offer virtual support meetings for people with mental illness and family members. To get more information about the meetings, call (770) 408-0625 or email email@example.com.
If you want to learn skills or information about mental health:
COVID-19 and your mental health:
- Learn self-care strategies and get the care you need to help you cope with resources and tips from the Mayo Clinic.
- Mental Health and COVID-19 information and resources, Mental Health America
- Teach Kids Coping Skills, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Strong4Life
If you have health coverage:
- Medicaid – If you need mental health or substance use recovery services during this time, check with your Medicaid insurance company and doctor to see if you can schedule a safe, socially distanced in-person appointment or a “virtual appointment” using the internet, video call, or telephone call, instead of going in-person. The contact information for your Medicaid insurance company is on the back of your insurance card.
- Private insurance – If you need mental health or substance use recovery services during this time, call your insurance company using the number on the back of your insurance card or visit their website to search for an in-network health care provider near you who offers the services that you need.
- Uninsured – If you need mental health care services during this time, call the Georgia Crisis & Access Line at 800-715-4225, visit the GCAL website, or download the MyGCAL app to find free or low-cost, local mental health & substance abuse services. Georgians should not let their insurance status get in the way of getting needed support or treatment.
- You can find more insurance information and resources (including how your insurance will cover COVID-19 testing & treatment) on our COVID-19: Your health coverage, health care, & well-being blog.
If you want to help:
- If you have completed Mental Health First Aid training and are interested in volunteering to provide support via the Georgia COVID-19 Emotional Support Line please email your name and contact info to MHFAvolunteer@dbhdd.ga.gov