SPECIAL TO THE SENTINEL

Wellstar Health System, one of Georgia’s largest and most integrated healthcare systems, recently announced its 2021 Health Insurance Exchange (HIE) partners to connect patients with affordable, quality healthcare across all the communities and geographies served by Wellstar.

The HIE is a service that helps people shop for and enroll in affordable health insurance, which can impact health, well-being, and patient outcomes.

Georgia ranks 48th in the nation for uninsured people, with 13.41% of the population across the state being uninsured, according to Wellstar. Increases in unemployment rates during the pandemic have exacerbated the need for affordable health insurance. More than 1.4 million Georgians received unemployment benefits during the past seven months of 2020, according to the Georgia Department of Labor.

Having health insurance has a material effect on healthcare access and health outcomes — including mortality — by reducing financial barriers to quality medical care, including preventive care; medical screenings; chronic disease identification and therapies, such as for diabetes; diagnosis and treatment for serious medical conditions, such as cancer; emergency care and hospitalization; prescriptions; and mental wellness services. In addition, people with health insurance are more likely to use healthcare services and have better health and well-being overall.

People in Georgia who are underinsured, uninsured, or looking for affordable health insurance options can access Wellstar’s healthcare services via the HIE. Wellstar’s HIE partners for 2021 offer choices for insurance plans that provide access to care, with an extensive range of locations and services across Wellstar Health System.

The following HIE partners offer multiple plan options to meet patient needs:

• Ambetter from Peach State Health Plan

• CareSource

• Oscar

The Open Enrollment period on the 2021 Health Insurance Exchange is Nov. 1 through Dec. 15, 2020. Coverage begins January 1, 2021.

People who want to enroll in health insurance through the HIE and who have a qualifying life event such as job loss, divorce, or birth of a child, can apply for coverage with HIE partners outside of the enrollment period by providing proof of the life change.

Specific information on qualifying life events can be provided by HIE partners and also on the government’s official site, https://www.healthcare.gov/.

Information on Wellstar’s HIE can be accessed on the Wellstar website or at 1-833-265-3117 Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.