WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Ohio State University legend Eddie George held a news conference call to alert Ohioans to the March 31 deadline for enrolling in the 2014 health insurance marketplace. More than five million Americans—and nearly 106,000 Ohioans—are now healthier and better protected through health insurance obtained on the new marketplace. However, many Ohioans still remain eligible for insurance through the marketplace, about 85 percent of whom are eligible to enroll with financial assistance. Ohioans can find local, certified navigators, application specialists and counselors by visiting https://localhelp.healthcare.gov or by calling 1-800-318-2596.
“The health law has already helped millions of Ohioans receive quality care at an affordable price,” Brown said. “But many more 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 less than one week remaining before the enrollment deadline, Ohioans should utilize these resources in order to get covered, live healthier lives, and be better protected.”
As a former football player at Ohio State and for the Tennessee Titans, one of the lessons instilled in George was the importance of staying healthy. In 2006, Tennessee Governor Phil Bredsen appointed George as a spokesperson for the state’s GetFitTN program which is aimed at preventing Type 2 diabetes and promoting a healthier, more active lifestyle. And he recently participated in a “Funny or Die” online sketch to promote health care enrollment. George joined Brown today to urge Ohioans to take advantage of the resources available to them so they can join the millions of Ohioans who have already been protected by the health law.
Immediately following the call, Brown released Ohio specific data detailing, to date, the health law’s benefits for Ohioans. The health law has already ended lifetime caps on insurance coverage; covered both children and adults with pre-existing conditions; allowed young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance until their 26th birthday; offered free preventive care in new private insurance plans; and provided tax credits to small businesses to help them afford health coverage for their employees. Further, Brown announced last week that the health law helped more than 212,000 Ohio seniors and persons with disabilities save nearly $205,000 in 2013 on prescription drugs, with an average discount of $964.
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.
George played running back for the Ohio State Buckeyes between 1992 and 1995, studying landscape architecture. In 1995, George became the sixth out of now seven Buckeyes to win the Heisman Trophy, awarded annually to college football’s greatest player. George holds Ohio State’s single game rushing record with 314 yards and in 2011 was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame. As a professional, George was the 1996 Rookie of the Year, made four Pro Bowls, and is one of only 28 running backs in NFL history to rush for 10,000 yards or more. George is only the second running back in league history to achieve this feat without missing a start; the first being Cleveland Browns legend, Jim Brown. George currently works as a football analyst, actor, and landscape architect.