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Phoebe Helps South Georgians Sign up for Insurance


Phoebe Helps South Georgians Sign up for Insurance as ACA Enrollment Deadline Approaches

Albany, Ga. – Open enrollment for insurance plans offered through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) ends Friday, Dec. 15. Phoebe partnered with InsureGA and Albany Area Primary Health Care for an enrollment event Saturday at Phoebe East. Trained navigators and private insurance agents met with 64 people and successfully enrolled 23 of them in ACA policies.

Many of those new enrollees were surprised by the affordability of their new policies. “It was like a burden was lifted,” said Glenda Edwards, 62. She lost insurance coverage when her husband lost his job in 2013. He died the following year, and Edwards hasn’t been able to find affordable coverage since. “One insurance agent said they didn’t do individual policies, and another lady shared with me that I would be looking at over $1,000 a month. That was mind-boggling. I don’t know how anyone could afford paying that every month,” Edwards said.

Edwards ended up finding a policy that will cost her just $64.58 a month thanks to subsidies for which she qualifies based on her income. Some other enrollees qualified for even greater credits.

Edwards’ daughter, Desiree Morefield, is grateful Phoebe set up and publicized Saturday’s enrollment event. “I saw something about this event, and I said, ‘Mama, let’s go to that.’ It was very quick and easy. Everybody was friendly,” Morefield said. “We signed in and just as we sat down they said, ‘We have somebody ready to help you.’ He was very nice and got information from my mom and was helping her understand stuff. He showed her the different plans she qualified for and helped her with the one that she could afford.”

Edwards is pleased she will no longer have to pay a penalty to the Internal Revenue Service for not having insurance. “The first and second year weren’t too bad,” Edwards said. “But last year, it took me a couple of months to pay the IRS because I couldn’t afford it all up front.”

She’s also relieved to have insurance coverage again. “I really don’t have to go to the doctor a lot, so I’m blessed in that aspect. I try to keep up with going once a year, but I haven’t always been able to do that.  I have gotten free mammograms, but I’ve had to pay out of pocket for other things. I knew I desperately needed insurance with cataract surgery I’m facing soon,” Edwards said.

This year, the federal government cut the enrollment period in half, and Blue Cross Blue Shield is no longer offering individual ACA policies in many south Georgia counties. Ambetter stepped in to provide coverage, and many enrollees are finding those policies are better suited for them and more affordable. To qualify for a policy, you must have a minimum estimated income of $12,060.  A single person making up to $48,000 or a family of six with a household income of up to $131,000 may still qualify for reduced premiums.

You can sign up for coverage at www.healthcare.gov. You may also get help enrolling from the non-profit InsureGA by calling 866-988-8246 or visiting www.insurega.org.

Glenda Edwards encourages others in need of insurance to take the time to sign up before the deadline, and she is excited that her new policy will take effect on Jan. 1. “I’m looking forward to getting my card in the mail,” she said.