Whenever they cross that threshold, Kemp’s other proposal would make the transition smoother.
First, a reinsurance program – in which the state directly subsidizes the costs of the most expensive patients, rather than letting them drive up premiums for a small group of healthier patients – would lower premiums on the individual market by an average of about 10%. In some of the poorer regions of Georgia, the state would pick up a larger share of the tab, and premiums might fall by as much as 25%.
That plank would help the hundreds of thousands of Georgians who buy subsidized insurance as well as hundreds of thousands more who aren’t eligible for Obamacare subsidies. Some of the people hit hardest by Obamacare are the ones who make too much money to get help buying insurance, but still saw their individual-market premiums skyrocket over the past six years because of the law’s strict regulations.
Second, Georgians would no longer have to shop on the federal exchange, HealthCare.gov, to buy subsidized plans. They would instead be directed to private brokers and marketplaces, where they would see a broader array of choices.
More importantly, Georgians who are eligible for those subsidies – including families of four earning up to $103,000 this year – would be able to use them on more kinds of plans. They wouldn’t have to buy plans with all of the “essential health benefits” the ACA mandated, which helped drive up premiums. They would also for the first time be able to pool the subsidies with pre-tax contributions from their employers.
One key clarification here: All of the eligible plans would still have to cover pre-existing conditions. The ACA doesn’t allow states to waive that protection even if they wanted to do so.
In short, this would be a transformative step for health insurance in Georgia. More choices. Lower prices. More flexibility and customization.
Kyle Wingfield is president and CEO of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, www.georgiapolicy.org.