YOUNGSTOWN, OH — Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined local navigators to alert Mahoning Valley residents that enrollment for the 2014 health insurance marketplace will close at the end of this month. More than five million Americans—and nearly 97,000 Ohioans—are now healthier and better protected as a part of the new marketplace. However, more than 193,000 Ohioans remain eligible for the marketplace, with more than 115,000 of them eligible to enroll with financial assistance.
“The health law has already helped millions of Ohioans receive quality care at an affordable price,” Brown said. “But more than 193,000 Ohioans are still eligible for enrollment in the health insurance marketplace. Each of these Ohioans can receive valuable assistance from a health care navigator. And most are eligible for financial assistance. With only two weeks remaining before the enrollment deadline, Ohioans should utilize these resources in order to get covered, live healthier lives, and be better protected.”
Before, during, and after Brown’s press conference at Eastern Gateway Community College, local navigators took appointments and walk-in meetings to help local citizens enroll in an affordable, high-quality health plan. Joining Brown to help alert Ohioans was Kathleen Falk, Health and Human Services (HHS) Region V Director; and Bill Adams, Executive Director of Access Health Mahoning Valley.
Joining Brown to share her enrollment story was Mahoning Valley resident, Amber Beall. Beall is a young, single mother who lost her insurance when she switched jobs. But after enrolling in the marketplace with the help of financial aid, she now has quality, affordable insurance that keeps her healthy so she can continue to take care of her eight year old son, Nich. Also sharing her story was Mahoning Valley resident, Linda Ward. Ward is a widow who lost her insurance after she left her job to take care of her mother. Since Ward is not yet eligible for Medicare, but earns too much for Medicaid, she spent more than three years without coverage. But after receiving financial aid through the marketplace, she also now has quality, affordable insurance.
The health law has already protected millions of Ohioans like Beall and Ward by ending lifetime caps on insurance coverage, covering both children and adults with pre-existing conditions, allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance until their 26th birthday, offering free preventive care in new private insurance plans, closing the “donut hole” in drug prices for seniors, and providing tax credits to small businesses to help them afford health coverage for their employees.
Further, financial help is available for middle and low-income individuals to enroll if they don’t have meaningful employer-sponsored health coverage. This includes a family of four with an annual income of below $94,200, and single adults with an annual income below $45,960. For some Americans, premiums will be nearly 14 percent lower in 2014 than previously expected, according to a recent report by HHS. For an individual in Ohio, the average monthly premium for the lowest-cost silver plan is $304 and for the lowest cost bronze plan is $263. States with the lowest premiums have more than double the number of insurance companies offering plans compared to states with the highest premiums. Ohio consumers have an average of 46 health plans from which to choose in the marketplace.
The health law also ensures that the dollars Ohioans pay for health insurance are used for their medical care—rather than for executive bonuses and ad campaigns. The law requires that insurance companies spend at least 80 percent of the premiums they collect from consumers on medical care. If they don’t meet this goal, they must give consumers a rebate. In Ohio, it is estimated that more than 6,300 Ohioans will benefit this year from $487,000 in rebates. Ohio families have faced unchecked hikes in their health insurance costs for years. But the law subjects insurance companies to new scrutiny if they raise prices by more than 10 percent; and the health law provided the state of Ohio $5.1 million to combat unjustifiable increases.
Brown, who declined Congressional health insurance for nearly two decades—keeping a 1992 campaign promise to decline a health plan until similar coverage is available to all Americans—entered the marketplace during the 2014 enrollment period that started October 1, 2013 and ends March 31, 2014.