Brown: Health help on the way

Managing Editor
Nearly 1 million Ohioans should be eligible “for an historic opportunity” to receive financial help to afford “good health care coverage at a price they can afford,” a U.S. congressman and a non-profit organization director says, as the first enrollment period begins for President Obama’s Affordable Health Care for America Act.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown also says this should help poor and middle class Ohio residents concerned with health care coverage for their family and themselves.
“For millions of Ohioans across the Buckeye State, the new law will mean less anxiety, less worry and more money in their pockets,” Brown said, noting this extra money could be used to spur the economy. “For some Americans, the health insurance marketplace will lower premiums nearly 14 percent — more than previous expected.
“There is more work to do to perfect the system but we are off to a good start and Oct. 1 tens of millions of Americans and millions of Ohioans will be able to take a step toward the future where this anxiety, frustration and fear will take a back seat to getting health insurance that is predictable, available, solid and is there for them,” he said Wednesday during a media teleconference.
Starting Oct. 1, Ohioans with inadequate coverage, high premiums or a pre-existing condition can start the process to secure health care under the new federal government program administered through the states including Ohio by enrolling themselves in the program. The first to be covered under the new program would become part of the system on Jan. 1.
Brown claims more than 916,000 Ohioans are eligible to receive financial help in order to secure affordable and accessible health coverage.
Families USA Executive Director Ron Pollack reviewed how Ohioans can start the process to obtain and secure those benefits starting Oct. 1 and outlined the benefits available starting Jan. 1.
“In less than two weeks people in Ohio will have an historic opportunity to gain coverage in an affordable manner that has not existed before because significant numbers of people in the state are going to receive financial help with the purchase of health care coverage,” Pollack said. “People throughout Ohio and across this nation will soon be able to take part in a giant step towards making high-quality health coverage affordable. As we count down the days to Oct. 1, it will be important that all Ohioans learn about these breakthrough opportunities.
“For people in Ohio who enroll for this help soon, they will quickly receive the peace of mind and security that comes with knowing that their families can get the health care they need when they need it,” he said.
He explained a study by Families USA, a non-profit and non-partisan national organization for health care consumers, that most Ohioans with health insurance should see new benefits and better protections from insurance company abuses.
He said for the uninsured or those who do not get their coverage through work, the new health insurance marketplace will allow millions of Ohioans to comparison-shop for a variety of quality, affordable plans that best meet their health care needs.
He explained for an individual living alone with an income less than $46,000 or for a family of three with income less than $78,000, “they will qualify for significant premium subsidies.” A sliding scale will be used to provide more funds for those who make less.
Giving an example, Pollack said a family of three at approximately $30,000 income pays approximately $8,250 in premiums, they should receive a subsidy of $7,100.
At $40,000 of income, the same family should receive a premium subsidy of approximately $5,800.
Col Owens, the co-chairman of Ohio Consumers for Health Coverage, a coalition representing hundreds of thousands of the state’s health care consumers, explained his organization helps individuals enroll into the program.
“There is a lot of activity, there is a lot of excitement and because we have this network that came about to pursue the Medicaid expansion that same network is helping to drive a lot of this activity,” Owens said. “This is going to make people throughout the state aware of these opportunities and take advantage of them.”
Brown, Pollack and Owens said full enrollment should help with reducing premium costs and penalties for non-enrollment will help pay for the program.
Pollack said they are not worried about businesses cutting employees’ benefits since they are providing health care now and are not required to provide the insurance.

Box: Ohioans can go to to read about their options or live chat with an expert. They can also call the helpline, which is open 24/7 at 1-800-318-2596.