Insurers are flocking to offer cover in exchange for 2022; this year is still open for a week

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Lots of shopping options, plus lower prices.

It is generally a winning formula for consumers.

And that scenario describes how Georgia’s health insurance swap looks for individuals and families seeking coverage in 2022, according to initial documents filed by health insurers with the Department of Insurance. ‘State. The documents were obtained by GHN through an open case request.

Five insurers are proposing to enter the individual exchange for 2022, bringing the state’s total to 11. Three had dropped out in previous years – Aetna, UnitedHealthcare and Cigna – and two are new market entrants, Bright Health and Friday Health Plan.

They would join the leftovers Alliant, Ambetter, Blue Cross, CareSource, Kaiser Permanente and Oscar.

Eleven would be the most options for consumers since the exchange opened in 2014. The exchanges in the various states were created by the Affordable Care Act, to allow people without health insurance government programs. or private employers to purchase their own coverage at a reasonable rate.

“The rates look really good – obviously the market is really stable,” said Bill Custer, a health insurance expert at Georgia State University who analyzed insurer records.

Part of the stable premium trend is linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, Custer said. “A lot of people did not receive care” in 2020 as the coronavirus spread, he said, which reduced the level of payments from insurers to medical providers.

There have been concerns about pent-up demand for medical care leading to increased demands once the pandemic ends, Custer said. “Obviously, insurers don’t think this is a big deal,” he added.

Among returning insurers, the largest proposed premium increase was 6.9% for Aetna, according to Custer’s analysis. Alliant, Blue Cross, CareSource, Kaiser and Oscar all saw premium cuts.

Ambetter, with the highest number of registrants at the Georgia exchange, only offered a 0.6% increase, Custer showed. Managed by Centene, the St. Louis-based insurance giant, Ambetter is the only health plan to be offered statewide next year.

The rates are not final until state regulators, then federal officials, approve them, and those decisions are scheduled for September.

Meanwhile, insurance agents are warning consumers that the cheapest health plans may not have the strongest hospital and doctor networks.

Changes for this year

Registration for exchanges is normally completed before the start of the coverage year. But registration for 2021 is still open for new customers until August 15, part of an extended registration period approved by the Biden administration due to the economic effects of the pandemic. During this special registration period, Georgia saw at least 70,000 more registrants enter the exchange than in previous years, according to federal data.

“These numbers show what we have long known to be true: People need and demand affordable health coverage in Georgia,” Xavier Becerra, US Secretary of Health and Human Services, said in a recent statement.

Based on income, policies available on exchanges offer discounts, called grants, to consumers. As part of the US bailout plan implemented by President Biden, subsidy changes save Georgians already enrolled in 2021 coverage to save even more money, on average $ 59 per month, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Federal Services.

Patrick, 33, who lives in the Atlanta subway, said he would soon get a premium cut of about $ 100 per month thanks to the new increase in grants. Patrick, who owns a business in the entertainment industry, has requested that his full name not be used.

The exchange, he said, “gave me good options and not catastrophic trash plans” that don’t cover a lot of care.

These additional reductions will continue until next year.

Over 500,000 Georgians are enrolled in exchange coverage this year.

A better deal than elsewhere?

Nationally, the proposed premiums for 2022 reviewed by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) show that the rate hikes in 13 other states are generally higher than those in Georgia, which were not analyzed by the KFF. .

Most insurers expect healthcare use patterns to return to pre-pandemic levels, so most do not factor in additional costs or savings from COVID-19 in their 2022 premiums , according to the KFF analysis.

The additional subsidies and the new aid for people with incomes above 400% of poverty are expected to increase the number of registrants in the individual market, according to the analysis. Some insurers predict that these new registrants may be in better health and therefore financially less risky to insure than current members.

Premiums for individual policies on the California Health Insurance Exchange will rise 1.8% on average over the next year – a small increase attributed to record enrollments and increased competition among healthcare providers. health, state officials recently reported.

A more optimistic scenario

The Georgia stock market came out of some tougher years, when premiums rose and some insurers dropped out.

The four additional insurers show they see the exchange as a profitable area, Custer said. “They can assess the risk and the price accordingly. “

One of the new entrants, Friday Health Plans, said it looks forward to delivering affordable, quality health plans to residents of Georgia in 2022.

“We are currently working with regulators to secure our final in-state licensing agreements,” said Sal Gentile, CEO of the Denver-based company. “High numbers of uninsured people have plagued Peach State in recent years, which is of particular concern in the wake of the pandemic.” The company says it offers free and unlimited primary care visits.

The increased competition shows greater certainty on the part of insurers about the stability and viability of the health insurance exchange, said Laura Colbert of consumer group Georgians for a Healthy Future.

Kemp discussed the waiver plans last year.

She noted that many uninsured Georgians are eligible for discounted swap policies with premiums below $ 50 and in some cases as low as zero, but these people are often unaware that such offers are available.

Georgia’s proposed 2022 bonuses are under government review even as federal health officials balk at Governor Brian Kemp’s waiver plan to replace Healthcare.gov with a private enrollment system. (Waivers, which require federal approval, are state changes to certain health programs.)

Another facet of the waiver plan that is being debated and has received more favorable reception from the federal government, would create a reinsurance program for Georgia. This could reduce the premiums on the stock market even further.

Consumer advice

Before shopping, consumers should study the provider networks offered by health plans, said Bill Lucas, an insurance agent in the Savannah area. Some insurers offer employers much better physician and hospital networks than they provide for individual coverage, he added.

With one week remaining to sign up for coverage this year, federal officials note that consumers:

Bullet: Can use Healthcare.gov to apply online.

Bullet: Call the Marketplace call center at 1-800-318-2596, which provides support in over 200 languages.

Bullet: Find local help through an agent / broker or assistant in your area at Healthcare.gov/find-assistance/.


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