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Health insurance literacy

From choosing a plan to using your plan, health insurance can be complicated and many Georgians lack the information they need to make informed decisions.  In GHF’s recent report Getting Georgia Covered: Best Practices Lessons Learned and Policy Recommendations from the Second Enrollment Period, we interviewed enrollment assisters across the state and found that more than two-thirds of our survey respondents identified low health insurance literacy as a barrier to enrollment. Many of the consumers that assisters worked with had never been insured before, so they did not know how to choose a primary care physician or pay their monthly premium. One of the assisters interviewed acknowledged they needed to educate consumers on how to use their health insurance, but that it was a challenge when scheduled with a large number of enrollment appointments, although there are lawyers and Massachusetts firms that are specialized in insurances policies so they can help you understand better how it works. Additionally, some assisters reported that consumers chose the lowest premium plan because they did not understand the concept of a high deductible. Sometimes consumers would return to the assister wanting to change plans once they had tried to use their coverage. As we move forward, Georgians for a Healthy Future will be focusing efforts on improving the health literacy of Georgians and ensuring they have the knowledge, information, and confidence they need to make informed decisions.

 


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New resource! Getting Georgia Covered: Best Practices, Lessons Learned and Policy Recommendations from the Second Open Enrollment Period

GHF_enrollment_stickerNew health insurance opportunities created through the Affordable Care Act (ACA ) have led to historic reductions in the nation’s uninsured rate. Here in Georgia, more than half a million consumers signed up for health insurance during the open enrollment period that ended this past February, known as OE 2.

 

These strong enrollment numbers mean that more Georgia consumers can access the health care services they need and enjoy enhanced financial security for themselves and their families. The reduction in our state’s uninsured rate, although smaller than that of the nation as a whole, also has positive implications for the vitality of local health care systems and communities throughout Georgia.

 

Too many Georgians, however, remain uninsured, either because

 

  • they are unaware that there are coverage options that can meet their needs and budget
  • face cultural, linguistic, financial, or other barriers to coverage; or
  • fall into the “coverage gap” that was created when Georgia declined to expand Medicaid as authorized under the ACA

 

The goals of this report are

 

  • to explain the role of in-person assistance on enrollment outcomes and consumers’ experiences
  • to explore best practices that helped achieve robust enrollment in Georgia
  • to identify any common challenges or barriers to enrollment that Georgia consumers faced during OE2
  • to highlight promising strategies and approaches to reach the remaining uninsured who qualify for affordable health insurance
  • to put forth policy recommendations that can help facilitate a positive experience for health care consumers, both for those who are newly enrolled and for those who remain uninsured.

 

You can download and read the report below.

[embeddoc url=”https://healthyfutprod.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Getting-Georgia-Covered-Cover.pdf”]


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Getting Georgia covered: lessons learned from Open Enrollment 2

You’re Invited!

May 13, 2015 from 11:30 to 2:00

Georgia Railroad Freight Depot; Blue Room

Sign up here!

More than half a million Georgians signed up for health insurance during the open enrollment period that ended this past February (OE2). These strong enrollment numbers mean that more Georgians have access to the health care services they need and the peace of mind that comes from knowing that they are covered. What drove this success story for health care consumers in Georgia? Please join us for a conversation with representatives of the organizations most active in OE2 to learn lessons about their strategies, successes, and challenges that you can apply to your work. After their presentations, you will have the opportunity to ask your most pressing questions about health coverage in Georgia.  Lunch will be provided.

 

Panelists

Enroll America: Danté McKay, Georgia State Director

GHF: Whitney Griggs, Consumer Education Specialist

InsureGA: Sarah Sessoms, Executive Director

SEEDCO:  Lisa Stein, Vice President Work and Family Supports

US Dept. of Health & Human Services: Dr. Pamela Roshell, Region 4 Director

While this is a free event, please RSVP so we can order enough food.


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GHF welcomes new navigator!

 

 

PranayPranaya Rana joined Georgians for a Healthy Future this week as our new Navigator! In this role, Pranaya will work with consumers to help them enroll in health insurance through the Marketplace.  Pranaya is a former Lieutenant from the Nepalese Army Elite Forces. He has served as a U.N. Peacekeeper in post-earthquake Haiti and as a Refugee Resettlement Program Officer in Connecticut before he came to Kennesaw State University, Georgia to pursue his Ph.D. in International Conflict Management in 2012.   He has been working as a certified Healthcare Navigator in Metro Atlanta since the first open enrollment began in 2013. He recently completed his 6 months long Navigator’s term at Georgia Watch before joining Georgians For a Healthy Future.  He specializes in refugees and international communities and has served a wide variety of international communities enroll into affordable healthcare using a community specific service model developed through continued outreach, education and  needs assessment. He is Fluent in Nepali and Hindi besides English, and, speaks Urdu and intermediate French. If you’d like to contact Pranaya, he can be reached by email or by phone at 404-567-5016.


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Tax-time special enrollment period

 

 

taxesDid you go without health insurance in 2014 and are now subject to a tax penalty? Good news! – You may still be able to enroll in coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Starting last Saturday, March 15th, some people who are facing a fine on their taxes for not having coverage can now enroll in the Marketplace through a time-limited special enrollment period. To be eligible for this special enrollment period, you must not be currently enrolled in health insurance, attest that you owe the penalty for 2014, and attest that you first became aware of the penalty when you filed your 2014 taxes. This tax-related special enrollment period will run through April 30th, 2015.  Click here to learn more about who can qualify for this special enrollment period.


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More good news on Georgia’s enrollment numbers!

Last month it was announced that over half a million Georgians enrolled in coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Now a new report released by the Department of Health and Human Services contains even more encouraging data about the state of enrollment in Georgia. According to the report, 31% of Georgians that enrolled were between the ages of 18-34, which is a key age group since they tend to be healthier than older adults. Additionally, 90% of Georgians that selected a plan through the Marketplace received financial assistance in the form of Advanced Premium Tax Credits. The average monthly premium for Georgians using a tax credit was $73. Click here to see the full report.  Georgians for a Healthy Future’s ED talked with the Augusta Chronicle about why these numbers are so encouraging for Georgia.

 


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An advocate’s guide to King v Burwell

suprme court

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for the much anticipated King v. Burwell case, a case that threatens to eliminate tax credits to buy health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces in approximately three dozen states, including Georgia.

Here at GHF, we are happy that the ACA is working and that more than 536,000 Georgians were able to access affordable health care coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace during the most recent open enrollment period. We look forward to the Supreme Court’s decision in King v. Burwell and hope that it will be a positive outcome for the 461,000 Georgians who currently receive tax credits through the ACA. For now, health care coverage and tax subsidies for Georgia’s consumers remain unchanged.

There has been a lot of news coverage of the case this week and there are many resources available to help advocates communicate about the case to their supporters and stakeholders.

  • The Commonwealth Fund has a series of issue briefs about how subsidy shutdowns could affect consumers, health insurers, health care providers, and states. Each comes with a summary infographic.
  • The Commonwealth Fund also has an interactive map of the potential impact of a subsidy shutdown on each state.
  • Community Catalyst mapped the potential impact by congressional district.
  • The Urban Institute has put together a report about the implications of King v. Burwell on uninsured rates, changes in types of coverage, and costs of insurance.

 


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So you have coverage…now what?

If you have recently gained health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace, it may seem like you need to learn a whole new language to understand your coverage. Health insurance can be confusing, especially if you have never had it before or haven’t had it in a while. Just understanding a few key terms, such as premium, deductible and co-pay, will go a long way in helping you use your health insurance effectively. Click here for a simple guide to help you understand your new coverage. Additionally, if you are having trouble using your health insurance you can contact Whitney Griggs, GHF’s Consumer Education Specialist, at wgriggs@healthyfuturega.org or at (404) 567-5016, extension 5.


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GHF welcomes new health insurance navigator!

IMG_9114Georgians for a Healthy Future is excited to welcome Nykita Howell, our new Health Insurance Navigator, who joined us this week! In this role, Nykita provides Marketplace enrollment assistance to Georgia health care consumers. Prior to joining Georgians for a Healthy Future, Nykita worked in the fields of clinical and community based research and as a navigator for the first open enrollment period of the Health Insurance Marketplace. Her research efforts have been on studies focused on retention strategies for an NIH-funded cohort based at Umass Medical School, and a church-based diabetes project housed at Mercer University. Her work as a navigator prior to joining Georgians for a Healthy Future included building community partnerships and educating consumers over a seven county area. She holds an MPH from Mercer University School of Medicine and is a Certified Health Education Specialist. Prior to her graduate studies, Nykita received her B.S. in Biology from Clark Atlanta University, in Atlanta, GA. If you or anyone you know needs assistance navigating the health care system, please contact Nykita at nhowell@healthyfuturega.org or 404-567-5016. Remember, open enrollment begins Nov. 15th—just one month away!


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GHF will assist consumers with enrollment again this year!

 

 

Last week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)awarded health insurance navigator grants to 90 organizations in states with federally facilitated or partnership marketplaces. Health insurance navigators help consumers understand and compare health insurance options, enroll in coverage, determine eligibility for tax credits, and utilize new coverage once enrolled. Georgians for a Healthy Future is excited to announce that, for the second year in a row, we are part of a consortium of 12 nonprofit organizations, led by the national nonprofit organization Seedco, which received one of two grants for Georgia!

 

With the next open enrollment period just 58 days away, we are already getting ready. In the coming weeks Georgians for a Healthy Future will bring on a full-time health insurance navigator who will work closely with consortium partners to provide outreach, education, and enrollment assistance to Georgia individuals and families. More than 300,000 Georgia consumers signed up for coverage during last year’s open enrollment period, but hundreds of thousands more who are eligible for affordable coverage remain uninsured. Reaching these uninsured Georgians will require targeted outreach strategies and new partnerships with local community-based organizations throughout the state. Additionally, consumers who enrolled during the last open enrollment period will need assistance navigating re-enrollment and may have questions about how to understand and use their new coverage. Health insurance navigators played a critical role during the first open enrollment period and are poised to assist consumers again this fall, when the second open enrollment period begins.

 

Georgians for a Healthy Future is honored to participate in these efforts!


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