ATLANTA (AP) — After watching Georgia politicians quarrel for years over the issue, state residents will soon begin purchasing their own health insurance plans as required under a new system created by President Barack Obama’s administration.
Starting Tuesday, those without employer-provided health insurance can visit an online exchange run by the U.S. government and purchase policies. The system is designed to help people shop for policies and determine whether they qualify for financial support to defray the costs.
The opening of the exchanges is one of the most direct ways that Americans will be affected by a policy shift hotly debated both in Washington and in Georgia’s Statehouse. Under the Affordable Care Act, virtually all Americans will be required to carry health insurance or face fines. The law also bans insurance companies from turning away people in poor health or charging them more money.
Residents have had multiple questions for Bill Rencher, the health access program director for Georgia Watch, a consumer organization that has tried to educate Georgia’s residents about the pending changes.
“How much are the premiums going to cost?” Rencher said, discussing some off the most common questions. “Will I be affected by the mandate? What about my kid? What about my wife?”
The exchanges are for those without insurance. People who receive health care coverage through their employers will not use the exchanges. Studies released this month by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services showed the lowest-cost silver-level policy on the Georgia exchanges would average around $304 per month for an individual.