Although it is very basic and shouldn’t even be an issue, the fact is that there are around 1.7 million people in Georgia who go about without the benefit of health insurance. The state has over eight million according to the latest figures. That means around 21% of the state’s population do not have healthcare insurance. Of these uninsured 71% are income-earning adults or their dependents.
Georgia state officials admit that the ratio between the total population and the uninsured has already hit crisis level. In fact, they have even proposed legislation to make healthcare more affordable for Georgians. Of course, a lot of people in the state are without healthcare insurance because of the prohibitive cost of health insurance plans.
On January 31, 2008, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle announced the introduction of two healthcare initiatives in the state’s legislature: the Healthcare Safety Net and the Georgia Health Marketplace.
Once approved, the two proposed legislations are hoped to significantly reduce the cost of health insurance in Atlanta and elsewhere in Georgia by creating a simplified free-market system. Currently, Georgians have to contend with the high cost of healthcare, and there are very few options to choose from. While there are health insurance providers that offer whole gamut of health insurance programs in Georgia, only very few happen to have very affordable healthcare programs, or HMO or PPO programs that are THAT affordable.
With the Healthcare Safety Net program, qualified patients who have non-emergency symptoms will be taken away from hospital ERs to community-based clinics that are run by volunteers. Under this program, communities themselves can initiate the establishment of a Safety Net Clinic by applying for a partnership planning grant of up to $30,000. The money can be used to start building facilities. Meanwhile, existing clinics serving indigent patients can each apply for implementation grants up to $150,000 a year, with a one-year renewal option of $50,000. The money will be used to run the clinics.
On the other hand, the Georgia Health Marketplace (GHM) is set to become an online clearinghouse where average Georgians can do all these things: (a) check information the different health insurance in Georgia, (b) compare healthcare products from different insurers (c) buy health insurance plans.
The GHM will represent the different health insurance providers, groups of healthcare professional, as well as healthcare plans subsidized by the state. Cagle hopes that the GHM will make it easier individuals and small businesses to access information as well as buy products.
Georgia, however, is banking on the GHM’s marketing operations to encourage Georgians to get themselves insured and buy health insurance products by educating them on the importance of healthcare insurance.
There certainly isn’t a lack of insurance providers and agents in Georgia. There are a lot of them that you can find if you would only do a Google search. Health insurance plans should address the long-term healthcare of Georgians, help allay the costs of sicknesses and accidents.
Of all the healthcare programs available in the market today, perhaps the most accessible, at least for employed people, are the HMO plans. Under the Health Maintenance Organization Act of 1973 of the United States, companies with 25 full-time employees are required to offer healthcare or HMO options to their employees.