Georgians join thousands to beat the ACA Deadline

By Ron Harris Special to the Atlanta Voice | 3/31/2014, 5:22 p.m.
Georgians, along with tens of thousands of Americans, visited HealthCare.gov and flooded into ACA enrollment locations around the nation over ...
Jekisha Elliott looks at Geremen Teklehaimanot's phone, which was stuck on a health insurance exchange website. Photo by Jen Christensen/CNN.

Johnette Woodson, 61, signed up Saturday under ACA at Grady Memorial Hospital after being uninsured for nearly four and a half years.

Woodson, who is receiving care for cancer at Grady, had been without insurance since she left Walgreens to take care of her son four years ago. Though she is unemployed, she receives a pension from 30 years at Bethlehem Steel in Gary, Ind. Without that pension, Woodson would not have qualified for ACA in Georgia, which refused to participate in a portion of the program that would have provided insurance to those without incomes.

“This is a tremendous relief,” said Woodson, 61, who was diagnosed in 2012 with stage four lymphoma. “Before, I would say, ‘I can’t go to the doctor because I don’t have insurance.’ Now, that’s not an issue.’”

Denise Williams understands Woodson’s concern. Williams had worked for more than 30 years in seven states as a hospital administrator before leaving her position as chief operating officer at Grady a year and a half ago. She currently does consulting work, which means she can go without insurance in between jobs.

So, she recently signed up for insurance under ACA. Her premium for her and her 22 year-old son is about $700 a month, she said, but with the federal tax credit, it is reduced to less than a third of the original cost.

Williams, 61, said she has seen the consequences when people don’t have insurance.

“A lot of people who came to Grady neglected their health care because they didn’t have insurance,” she said. “They didn’t do the preventative health because it was just too expensive. So, they came to the emergency room when they had health issues instead of going to a primary care physician.”