Obamacare deadline looming, officials encourage people to still sign up

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It’s been a controversial law but one that supporters say has still helped the country more than hurt it. And while President Elect Donald Trump has vowed to repeal the Affordable Care act, those in the Obama Administration are still encouraging anyone who needs medical insurance to sign up for coverage by the deadline which is midnight on December 15. “People should enroll, there’s a big difference between campaign rhetoric and actual governing policy,” says Kevin Counihan who is the CEO of Healthcare.gov.

Counihan says that up to 600,000 people in Georgia have signed up for insurance through the exchanges run by the federal government. “92 percent of the people in Georiga are getting tax credits and 76 percent find plans for less than 75 dollars a month or less,” he told us. “People want access to coverage, they want to know that they’ve got the ability to be able to afford it and we’re finding through satisfaction surveys that people are happy with the coverage.”

Counihan also said:

In Georiga, 27 percent of enrollees had pre-existing conditions which meant in the past, they couldn’t get coverage at all

There is also a drop (by roughly 33 percent) in roughtly in people who said they could not get coverage because theycouldn’t afford to go to the doctor

And the number of people who have filed bankruptcies due medical expenses has “plummeted”

“So there’s a lot of good reasons to get more people insured and it’s not only good for individuals but actually for the country and the reason is just because someone is uninsured doesnment mean they don’t get sick,” says Counihan.

However, Georgia Congressman Tom Price who has been selected by Donald Trump to be the new secretary of Health and Human Services is a critic of the Affordable Care Act and has promised to help the new administration repeal and replace it with more “market oriented” solutions. It is expected that a transition will take awhile, even several years, which is why Counihan says people who want coverage in 2017 shouldn’t necessarily expect a lot of changes and should sign up for coverage (which begins January 1st) by the deadline which again is midnight on Thursday, December 15.

Counihan says the uninsured rate has dropped from 14 percent to about 8 percent because of the ACA and that “no law is perfect but we now have a good foundation.”

He also says controversy about healthcare is nothing new in the U.S. “Healthcare has always been controversial in our country,” he told me. “If you go back 50 years ago with the introduction of Medicare and Medicaid- that aws considered communism by the American Medical Association. So we’ve always had kind of a conflicting view about whether healthcare is a right of citizenship or

a privilege of employment.”

Despite an uncertain future, Counihan says there are now “more people getting preventive care coverage than ever before, people with preexisting conditions are not being shut out of the healthcare system and women that used to be charged twice the rate as men for the same coverage no longer have to pay that double penalty.”

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