by Jill Nolin, Georgia Recorder
This Friday is the last day to sign up for health insurance through the federal marketplace to kick off the new year with coverage.
To sign up for coverage starting Feb. 1, the deadline to enroll is Jan. 15.
And for now, the federal website healthcare.gov is still the place for Georgians to go to enroll in a plan.
This year’s open enrollment is happening at a tumultuous time in Georgia. Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to lose Medicaid coverage after the ending of a pandemic-era federal rule that blocked states from kicking people off the program.
And earlier this year, lawmakers passed a measure allowing Georgia to create a state-based marketplace, but that program will not fully launch until next year. Still, the state’s website for Georgia Access is up and being promoted, although a note on the site refers consumers to healthcare.gov to enroll in a plan for next year.
Supporters of the Affordable Care Act are encouraging consumers to go straight to healthcare.gov this year to sign up for coverage.
But healthcare.gov is referring consumers looking for assistance back to the state-run Georgia Access site, said Deanna Williams, who is a health insurance navigator with the patient advocacy organization Georgians for a Healthy Future.
On the state site, this free assistance can be accessed by searching for navigators based on county of residence.
“We’re just making sure that they have the plan that provides the coverage they need, whether they want a specific hospital or a specific doctor. We’re just making sure that they still get the coverage that’s catered to their health needs,” Williams said on a virtual press call this week organized by Protect Our Care.
Pandemic-era premium tax credits, which have lowered the monthly cost of health insurance for many Georgia consumers, will continue to be available after they were extended through last year’s Inflation Reduction Act.
“Y’all, the IRA saves people money in all kinds of ways, including with health care coverage,” said Congresswoman Nikema Williams, who is an Atlanta Democrat who participated in the Protect Our Care call.
The Biden administration announced last week that 7.3 million people had signed up for coverage since open enrollment started on Nov. 1. That includes nearly 544,000 Georgians.
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