By Tia Lynn Lecorchick (managing editor)
With individual mandates for health insurance in full swing, it is more important than ever to secure health insurance for oneself and family. The Open Enrollment period closes on Feb. 15. Those without health insurance will be penalized $95 or one percent of their income (per person) once tax time rolls around. Next year, the penalty will be over $300 dollars or two percent of one’s income.
To connect more people with this information, Insure GA and the Morgan County Family Connection held the 2015 Health Insurance Marketplace Enrollment Event Friday, January 16 at the Morgan County Library to provide information about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Marketplace as well as assist those interested in purchasing health insurance plans through the process.
Insure GA, a non-profit organization based out of Macon, received a federal Navigator Grant to fund community outreach sessions in order to get accurate up-to-date information about the requirements of the ACA and available healthcare options to the public.
According to Kate Malone, health insurance navigator for Insure GA, the biggest misconceptions about healthcare are the ACA requirements and the nature of the Marketplace Exchange.
“The most important thing I want people to know is that there is a lot of misinformation about what the ACA is and what the marketplace is. You are not getting some sort of federal insurance,” explained Malone. “It’s a place where you can buy private insurance and may qualify for tax credits to help pay your monthly premiums.”
The Marketplace Exchange offers for types of insurance plans: bronze (40/60 cost-ratio), silver (30/70 cost ratio), gold (20/80 cost ratio), and platinum (10/90 cost ratio).
To qualify for plans offered through the Marketplace Exchange, individuals or families need to be above the federal poverty line. If you make up to 400 percent over the federal poverty line, you could qualify for tax credits to help offset the costs of monthly premiums.
According to Malone, the ACA introduced four major reforms to the healthcare system.
“The ACA created the Marketplace Exchange, kids can now say on their parent’s health insurance until age 26 without being enrolled fulltime in school, they are not using pre-existing conditions to determine eligibility or costs, and the only thing insurance companies can change rates over is location, age, and whether or not you use tobacco products,” explained Malone. “They can’t ask questions about your previous health issues. This has opened incredible opportunities for people with things like HIV, diabetes, and cancer. They will now have options they didn’t have before and it’s really exciting for them and it’s exciting to help them.”
Insure GA is currently trying to inform the public with this information through a series of community outreach events all over the state of Georgia. “Part of our mission is to reach more rural areas,” said “We help educate people about their options, help sign people up, do outreach events and presentations and things like that. My primary job is to provide people with information about the Affordable Care Act.” “There has been a lot of confusion and misinformation about the Affordable Care Act, so we want to make sure we provide people with accurate information and explain all of their options,” said Malone. “We are not getting paid from any insurance companies, so it’s unbiased information.”
Malone hopes more people will utilize the preventive services offered through the ACA, not only for their own health, but for the monumental savings to everybody. “Our organization really wants people to get out there and use their preventive services. We think it’s really important that all the plans you get on the marketplace will have ten essential health benefits, one of them being preventive care and you can use the preventive care at no additional costs under all plans offered on the marketplace,” said Malone. “That’s definitely the best part of the affordable care act. We think it’s really important that people get coverage, do their screenings and take control of their health.”
To find out about healthcare options tailored to your circumstances, visit: www.healthcare.gov.