Increased Competition in Georgia Health Exchange Next Year

No Deal Nathan

This year, only one health plan by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia went statewide in the exchange. A total of nine insurers are seeking to offer exchange plans in 2015. That’s up from five insurers for the current year.

The 2014 insurance exchange showed extreme differences in rates between metro Atlanta, where multiple plan choices were offered, and southwest Georgia, where only a single insurer offered plans. The southwest Georgia region had some of the highest exchange premiums in the country this year.

Yet others see the increased insurance competition in Georgia as a sign that the law is succeeding, despite its problems. “I’m not seeing rate shock or huge increases,” said Cindy Zeldin of Georgians for a Healthy Future, an organization that supports the ACA. Health insurers, she said, “see a market and a demand for health care. Consumers will have more choices.”

The insurance department released data for eight of the nine applicants last week. Glenn Allen, spokesman for Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens, said UnitedHealthcare had an incomplete application.

Three other new insurers – Coventry, Time Insurance and Cigna – are seeking to join the five holdovers from this year’s exchange that are also submitting rates for review: Alliant Health Plans, Blue Cross, Humana, Kaiser Permanente, and Peach State Health Plans.

Graham Thompson, executive director of the Georgia Association of Health Plans, said, “More carriers equals more choice for Georgia consumers.”

And southwest Georgia, which trailed only Colorado ski resort towns with the highest 2014 premiums, will appear to get at least one option that’s less expensive. Blue Cross, the sole insurer there, says in its actuarial memo for 2015 that its proposed rate cuts will vary by plan, from 14.6 percent to 3.1 percent.

While Governor Deal seems more interested in making a stand against Obamacare to get re-elected it would appear Georgians will bear the blunt trauma of his inaction. At least those lucky enough to have health insurance. Deal bragged that Georgia would require “navigators” – people hired to assist individuals sign up for Obamacare — to be licensed by the Georgia Department of Insurance.

According to one report via Gov. Nathan Deal has pocketed at least $327,500 since 2012 without reporting it, apparently skirting disclosure rules and the federal tax code.

Major benefactors of the committee, Real PAC, include health-care interests seeking tens of millions — even billions — of dollars in business with state government. One donor, WellCare of Georgia, gave Real PAC $50,000 on the same day that state Medicaid officials said they planned to extend WellCare’s $1 billion-a-year contract for two years. Read Full Story Here

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