LIMA — The clock is ticking on some 1.3 million Ohioans who could sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act but are unaware of this opportunity and the approaching deadline.
Kathleen Falk, regional director with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, challenged Ohioans and those gathered Wednesday at Mayor Dave Berger’s weekly media briefing to spread the word about Monday’s sign-up deadline.
“With over 1 million uninsured in Ohio we need to reach everyone and in this first open enrollment period there are five days to go before the deadline, which is the end of March 31, the end of next Monday,” said Falk, who believes most people either do not know about the law taking effect or do not understand the law. “The good news here is when people shop for this affordable health care, they will see in Ohio about an average of about 46 plans.”
On the government website, she said a family of four with an annual household income of $50,000 should be able to pay $156 per month and receive 10 essential benefits “from doctors and hospital bills to preventative services like high blood pressure screenings and mammograms, pre-cancer screenings.”
Local sources include Health Partners of Western Ohio, St. Rita’s Medical Center and Cheryl Allen Southside Community Center, “so there is local help right here if you want to talk to a real live person face-to-face who can answer your questions or go onto the website.”
The Cheryl Allen Southside Community Center plans to hold an Affordable Healthcare clinic from 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday at the center.
Between Marketplace and the Medicaid expansion, Health Partners of Western Ohio Operations Director Jolene Joseph said they have assisted more than 5,000 people.
“We have completed nearly 2,800 applications combined between Marketplace and Medicaid,” Joseph said. “When we talk about the applications, it is the covered lives not just the applicant sitting in front of us and to date it is 2,883 individuals as of Monday.
“This is the final blitz, the final blast as we try to reach out to individuals,” she said. “We are seeing about 100 applications being completed daily as individuals recognize that as of March 31 if they do not get access to the Marketplace then they will have to wait. We don’t want to see them go another year without being insured so we are en route to complete another 800 applications between now and March 31.”
Falk said if people start to sign-up on March 31 and do not finish the entire registeration process as long as their name is in the queue, or in the computer system, then they can still complete the registration. If they have a life-changing event, such as a baby or a divorce, they can still participate, otherwise they must wait until the next sign-up period in November.