Tuesday October 1st is the first day Ohioans can shop for health insurance on the new health care exchange under the federal affordable health care act. Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles gives a quick tutorial on how Ohioans should go about doing that.
Uninsured Ohioans can start shopping for health insurance online….just like they would if they were comparing book prices on Amazon. Ohio elected to not set up its own health care exchange so Ohioans will be shopping on the federal exchange.
Jackie Garner with the U.S. center for Medicaid/Medicare services says the website for the federal health insurance exchange is easy: healthcare.gov. "When they shop on the marketplace, they will be able to make an apples to apples comparison."
Garner explains there will be many different private insurance companies to choose from and they will be offering plans that include a wide variety of services. For example, she says Ohioans could choose a bronze plan that offers higher deductibles and fewer services at a lower price or the platinum plan that offers lower deductibles and more coverage at a higher price.
"And I think people will be very pleased with the actual costs of the plans themselves and for, we estimate a very high percentage of individuals and families will be eligible for extra help and when you take into account that extra help, the plans become even more affordable."
Garner says the plans are not allowed to reject people with pre-existing conditions. And she says preventive medical care is part of all of the plans, regardless of the level of coverage chosen. Ohioans have until December 15th to sign up for a plan in order for coverage to start on January first. There’s one important thing to remember – individuals are required, under the new health care law, to have coverage in calendar year 2014.
"When an individual files their taxes in 2015 for the year 2014, if they did not get credible coverage durng 2014, they run the risk of having a fee assessed through the tax process," she says. "And the fee that they would be paying in 2015 is approximately $95 dollars per adult or one percent of your annual income, whichever is higher and about half of that for a child."
Garner says the fee is set to increase in larger increments each year after that. Young Ohioans under the age of 26 can stay on their parent’s health care plan if they want under the new federal law.
Unlike some other states, Ohio has not yet passed Medicaid expansion. That means 275,000 low income Ohioans who would be eligible for Medicaid under the expansion program will not be able to get it….at least at this point. Garner recommends everyone, regardless of income, go online and shop the exchanges. She says many Ohioans might find out they already qualify for Medicaid coverage, even without the expansion.