Nearly one in four Georgians with Obamacare insurance drop coverage

Nearly one in four Georgians who bought health insurance for 2015 through the Affordable Care Act’s online marketplace dropped their coverage by the end of June, federal data shows.

The decline mirrors a similar decrease throughout the first year of HealthCare.gov in 2014. Experts and advocates say a number of factors could be contributing to the drop-off in coverage. People get jobs and insurance through their new employers. Some get married and get insurance through a spouse. Others simply cannot afford the monthly premiums of their plans.

It’s a challenge to advocates who work to enroll consumers — and not one they have ready answers for.

“You’re always going to have some drop-off, but this highlights the need to have (enrollment) assisters and to have continued education,” said Cindy Zeldin, executive director of Georgians for a Healthy Future, an advocacy group that helps educate Georgians about health care.

About 541,000 Georgians enrolled in Obamacare coverage for 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Roughly 418,000 kept that coverage through June. That’s a nearly 23 percent decrease compared with the national average of 15 percent.

Other states with large numbers of uninsured, such as Florida and Texas, also experienced declines larger than the national average. The number of people who kept their policies in Florida fell by 18 percent, while 22 percent of those enrolled in Texas did not keep their policies through June.

Georgia’s 541,000 figure for 2015 represents a jump of about 200,000 new enrollees from the previous year. Still, enrollment dropped off in 2014 too.

Signing up for insurance is one thing but paying for it is another, health care experts say. Even with the help of federal tax credits, many people may not be able to afford insurance, Zeldin said.

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