The Trump administration has given permission to Georgia to pull out of the Obamacare health insurance platform that provides Americans the opportunity to compare and shop for policies through a single government website.
By exiting from Healthcare.gov, the state will force Georgia residents interested in purchasing individual health plans either to work through private brokers or to approach individual carriers themselves, making it more difficult for them to compare plans.
Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp’s administration argued in its application to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that the change would spur innovation in the insurance market and lead to lower premiums. The change, the state said, would “create a competitive private insurance marketplace that provides Georgia’s residents with better access, improved customer service, and coverage options.”
Critics insist the opposite will occur and that it will result in higher premiums and fewer Georgians enrolled in health care coverage.
They warn that without access to the federal clearinghouse, Georgia residents will have a harder time accessing federal subsidies they are entitled to. They also say that without access to the federal market, customers are more likely to be directed to substandard health plans that could leave them with either no coverage or substantial medical debt.
Larry Levitt, executive vice president for health policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, tweeted, “Today the Trump administration approved a Georgia waiver to eliminate the exchange. This doesn't give people more options. It just makes getting insurance harder.”
It is the first time the federal government has given a state the authority to leave Healthcare.gov without having its own, state-based market. Fifteen states currently have such markets.
The change will take effect in 2023. Even before her agency gave Georgia the go-ahead, CMS Administrator Seema Verma predicted that approval would likely draw a legal challenge.
CMS made the announcement of its approval on Sunday, which coincides with the beginning of the federal government’s six-week long, 2021 enrollment period. State-based markets generally offer longer enrollment periods.