Funding for health centers to help consumers choose insurance

Twenty-nine government-supported community health centers in Georgia now have access to $3.5 million in federal money to help uninsured individuals enroll in health coverage made available through the Affordable Care Act.

Nationwide, $150 million will be provided to health centers to provide consumers with in-person help to understand the insurance plan options offered on the new online health insurance marketplaces, which are slated to be up and running in January.

Nearly 900,000 Georgians are expected to shop for coverage on the federally run insurance exchange website. People with incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level may be eligible for federal tax credits to help make coverage more affordable. Consumers are expected to begin enrolling this fall.

Centers will also help people figure out whether they are eligible for insurance through the exchanges, Medicaid or other health programs.

Investing in health centers is one way the Obama administration is helping consumers understand their insurance options, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement Thursday.

“Health centers have extensive experience providing eligibility assistance to patients, are providing care to 321,210 individuals in Georgia communities, and are well-positioned to support enrollment efforts,” Sebelius said.

The funding will help community health centers hire more staff and train them, as well as conduct community outreach efforts.