ATLANTA - Open enrollment begins under the Affordable Care Act on Tuesday but hundreds of thousands Georgians don’t qualify for federal subsidies to buy health insurance because they make too little.
More than 600,000 Georgians will fall into a coverage gap because they make too much to qualify to Medicaid and too little to qualify for federal help to buy health care, Channel 2’s Lori Geary reported Thursday.
Ellen Wall, a part-time nanny from Duluth is one of those residents who fears what may happen.
Wall told Geary she is constantly looking for work, but right now she couldn’t afford health insurance because her salary averages about $10,000 a year.
She was relieved when health care reform passed. She told Geary she now fears a bad diagnosis every time she goes to the doctor.
“It can’t be that I have to decide do I want to pay health insurance this month or rent,” Wall said.
However, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal decided not to expand Medicaid to more than 600,000 Georgians. Deal said state taxpayers cannot afford the $2 billion dollars the expansion would cost over a decade.
“I absolutely agree with his stance on his part. This is federal encroachment on state rights,” Atlanta Tea Party leader Debbie Dooley said.
The Medicaid decision creates the coverage gap.
A working 55-year-old man who makes $25,000 per year will get a nearly $7,000 subsidy for health care under the Affordable Care Act.
A 55-year-old man who makes under $9,000 per year gets no subsidy and won’t be covered by Medicaid because Georgia did not expand the program.
Georgia is not the only state that did not expand Medicaid. Twenty-one others decided against it and three others are still debating the issue.