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The Ohio guide to health care exchanges
What Ohioans need to know about new federal health care exchanges
by WKSU's STATEHOUSE CORRESPONDENT JO INGLES


Reporter
Jo Ingles
 
Jackie Garner is the consortium administrator for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Courtesy of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
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In The Region:

Tomorrow is the first day Ohioans can shop for health insurance on the new state exchange under the Affordable Care Act.

Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles gives a quick tutorial on how Ohioans should go about doing that.

Listen for what Ohioans need to know about new federal health care exchanges

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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 people who don't have health insurance 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—health care, all one word, dot gov.

“When they shop on the marketplace, they will be able to make an apples-to-apples comparison,” Garner says.

People can choose from dozens of different private-insurance plans that include a wide variety of services. 

Affordability questions?
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. 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.

She says the plans are not allowed to reject people with pre-existing conditions. And Garner says preventative medical care is part of all of the plans, regardless of the level of coverage chosen. 

Due dates
Ohioans have until Dec. 15 to sign up for a plan in order for coverage to start on Jan. 1. 

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 during 2014, they run the risk of having a fee assessed through the tax process,” Garner said.  “And the fee that they would be paying in 2015 is approximately $95  per adult or 1 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 plan if they want to 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.

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