Jones: Georgia asks for extension in getting health exchange started

Just a few minutes ago I bumped into Walter Jones who told me he had just met with Ralph Hudgens, Georgia’s Insurance Commissioner. Hudgens had given Jones a letter he sent to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asking for help in dealing with the rapidly rising cost of health insurance. Lo and behold, Jones has written a short article on it.

Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens asked U.S. Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for another 30 days beyond tomorrow’s deadline to approve the health plans submitted by seven insurance companies wanting to do business in the state.

He said some rates were 198 percent higher than current plans available in the state.

The Federal Health Insurance Exchanges are due to “go live” on October 1st of this year.

16 comments

  1. Jackster says:

    I’m confused – I didn’t think we were doing our own exchange, but rather participating in the federal exchange.

    Is that what we’re seeing here?

    • Scott65 says:

      You are correct. The State is not running the exchanges so this whole story is a bunch of BS. Unless the insurance commissioner wants to make public what he is talking about, it is nothing but a feeble attempt to undercut the law. Buzz you should know better than to be a tool.

      • Wrong sir. The Insurance Commissioner has to review the rpremium increases proposed by the various insurance companies. As has been reported, they are going up substantially. Hudgens is trying to protect the people of Georgia, which is his job, and asking HHS for the delay to make sure the proposed new premuims are accurate.

        Having recently attended the National Conference of Insurance Legislators meetings, I can tell you I’d be shocked if the Federal exchanges are ready to go on October 1st. The Feds are still writing the rules and none of the Navigators have been fully trained. The predicted train wreck is happening, at least in regard to the exchanges.

          • JayJacket says:

            Me too. Humana bill came in the mail this week – 35% increase in premiums starting in October. That’s on top of two other rate increases in the past year.

            Thanks, Obama.

        • Two things to address your issues:

          1. The new regulations under Obamacare require plans to cover much more than they typically cover now. I can get $81/month coverage from Blue Cross currently. What am I getting for my roughly $1,000 yearly premium? A $5,000 deductible, three doctor visits costing $30 copay and after that I pay the rest. So even if I go to the doctor three times (unlikely) and don’t have any additional blood work or anything else done, I’m paying something like $1,080 for maybe $750 in coverage. Anything else happens to me, I’m on the hook essentially for the first $5,000. There is little actual value to this plan which I can purchase. What’s 198% of $81/month = $241. Let’s compare to the $210/mo option. The $210 option has a $1,500 deductible, half the annual out of pocket maximum, higher co-insurance, unlimited $35 copays and better prescription drug coverage. This more expensive plan is a real plan – it gives you real protection from more than just cancer or getting hit by a bus crossing the street, and under Obamacare for the kind of people who can’t afford it and are buying the $81 so they’ll have some very limited catastrophic protection, there will also be subsidies to help pay the costs. So go ahead and scare me with 198%, but until I see the actuarial value of the old plan and the new plan and factor in the subsidies, it’s a meaningless stat. And in my small business pool, I/my company would have to pay close to $600/mo for the $210 plan that an individual can buy, so hearing that a waitress (typical scare story by conservatives) is going to have to pay 3 times higher (before subsidies) to get a plan that has actual value compared to what she can buy now, sorry not buying it.

          2. If you’re really so concerned about Obamacare implementation being a train wreck then your party collectively could work to help make the implementation better, instead of taking their ball and going home after losing a giant election where you framed it as one of the major choices and again, you lost. But the flip side to that is – lets say you don’t have insurance because you either can’t afford it or because you have a pre-existing condition. Now let’s say Obamacare implementation is going to be a train wreck. Here’s your outcome matrix as proposed by Buzz/Republicans:

          Current status:
          Can’t afford/acquire health insurance

          Options:
          A = Obamacare perfectly implemented, get cheaper/available insurance in 2014
          B = Obamacare implementation is a trainwreck, maybe you don’t get improved access to insurance until 2015 or later
          C = Obamacare repealed, you never get insurance because Republicans have no real alternative

          In what world does that person prefer C to A or B? And may I remind you that if you’re part of an employer plan, for the most part it doesn’t matter how it is implemented, save for that you risk losing or changing your job and becoming part of that decision matrix above, and again, why would that person pick C?

          • Harry says:

            It would be nice if Obamacare would permit you the choice of continuing with a high deductible plan.

            • There will still be a high deductible option, it will just provide more coverage than the current ones, and for those who qualify for subisides, will probably be about the same as the current total junk plan they buy. For those who don’t qualify for subsidies, they’ll have to pay a little more (sorry life has winners and losers) but at least they’ll get some actuarial value out of the deal.

              • Harry says:

                What’s your source? What’s a “little more” premium? If that’s true, then it would be a no-brainer for young healthy people to go the high deductible route, which would have the effect to cut the knees out from under the Obamacare strategy of shifting risk from the old and sick to the young and healthy.

        • Jackster says:

          I’ve implemented a navigator program before – for it to be anything more than a call center will be a challenge in and of itself.

          Is the expectation here that by delaying the regulations, the premiums will go down? I understand there is a definition of a risk pool to contend with, and an expansion of benefits, but what is the expectation for premiums here?

  2. cheapseats says:

    Higher healthcare costs are a vote-buying scheme by conservatives – nothing less.
    They are so desperate to make the President look bad that they are willing to bleed the rest of us dry to make their point.

    • Thought experiment. They’ve already proven with the debt limit showdowns that they’re willing to set back the economy if they think they can score some political points, and it worked, as the economic recovery definitely stalled when the US had its credit crisis a while back.

      So, with that in mind, if they truly believed that Obamacare was going to destroy the fabric of our country, they shouldn’t have any problem with letting it unfold and be implemented – in fact they should be helping it along, since once America realizes her mistake they’ll usher in the Republicans to power for generations.

      So, keeping that in mind, could they be doing everything they can to try and block implementation not because they think it’s bad for the country, but because they think on par in the future, the country will actually…LIKE Obamacare?

      Food for thought.

      • saltycracker says:

        The healthcare train will see the Republicans blow the bridge or the Democrats build it with rotten wood. Economic reality demands everyone have skin in the game.

        Restrict govt involvement to regulations on coverage and research, privatize insurance support.
        Go with a Personal mandate or allow right of refusal, except for stabilization, by providers.
        Go with competitive private providers including more flexibility by providers/workers, this includes all public workers.
        Encourage charity hospitals

        • Here’s the problem – even if Obama agreed to major moves in the direction of say the Ryan healthcare plan (and many parts of Ryan’s most recent comprehensive plan from circa 2007 aren’t that different from Obamacare) do you think the Republicans could even make that deal? I don’t. Sad – so, while your fantasy of what you think should happen, or what I think should happen, or what anyone thinks should happen, might be good and fun to speculate about, the real choices right now are however Obamacare proceeds on its own with regulatory rule-making tweaking, or going back to the pre-OC world with no changes.

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