By Louise Norris
March 28, 2014
Open enrollment in Ohio ends on March 31. But HHS is allowing an extension for applicants who begin the process by that date, but are unable to complete their enrollment by the end of the day on March 31. The extension is expected to be valid until mid-April, and applicants will have to attest to the fact that they tried to enroll by March 31 but were unable to finish because of technical problems or other extenuating circumstances.
By March 1, 78,925 people had finalized their applications in the Ohio exchange, and an additional 97,477 had qualified for Medicaid through the exchange. By late March, another 115,000 people had enrolled in Medicaid through the new state website, Benefits.Ohio.gov, almost half of whom are newly eligible based on the expanded Medicaid guidelines that took effect in Ohio on January 1.
CMS announced on November 22 that the technology necessary for applicants to enroll in exchange plans directly through insurers was working and being piloted in three states, including Ohio. The program was summarized in a presentation by Families USA in early March.
Ohio Governor John Kasich is not an ACA proponent, but he’s long been a supporter of expanding Medicaid in Ohio, which was approved in late October 2013. Eligible residents were able to begin enrolling in expanded Medicaid on December 9, and the state received 1,165 applications on the first day of enrollment. However, opponents of Medicaid expansion brought a lawsuit against the Ohio Department of Medicaid and the state’s Controlling Board because the General Assembly was bypassed in the decision to expand Medicaid. The plaintiffs hoped to block the state from expanding Medicaid to cover approximately 366,000 residents who would be newly eligible under the expanded guidelines. But on December 20th, the Ohio Supreme Court sided with Governor Kasich and kept Ohio Medicaid expansion on track.
In November 2012, Governor Kasich formally announced that Ohio would not implement a state-run health insurance exchange. In the same letter, Kasich indicated that Ohio would retain control of plan management activities and determining eligibility for the state’s Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP).
In June 2013, the Ohio Department of Insurance issued a press release announcing that 14 insurers filed plans to offer more than 200 options for individual insurance, and seven insurers would offer 84 options for small businesses. Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, who also directs the state’s insurance department, stated in the press release that “consumers will have fewer choices and pay much higher premiums for their health insurance starting in 2014.” Both opponents and supporters of the Affordable Care Act jumped on the press release. Opponents claimed Ohio was the latest example of “rate shock.” Supporters dismissed the announcement for making “apples-to-oranges” comparisons and pointed out that both Kasich and Taylor have been outspoken about their opposition to the ACA.
By the time the exchange opened in October, two of the original carriers had backed out, leaving 12 carriers and roughly 200 plans in the still very robust Ohio exchange. Averaged across all age groups, the lowest cost bronze plan in the Ohio exchange is $263/month, and the lowest cost silver plan is $304/month. Rates in the Ohio exchange are just slightly lower than the average of the 36 states where HHS is running the exchange.
Laws were enacted in Ohio to make it more difficult for navigators to be certified, which means that the state has fewer people available to assist applicants, and there was a delay in getting them started as navigators after the exchange opened on October 1.
Ohio residents can compare plans, determine subsidy eligibility and enroll in coverage at Healthcare.gov.
State Exchange Profile: Ohio
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation overview of Ohio’s progress toward creating a state health insurance exchange.
Let your Ohio governor and legislators know how you feel about the state’s proposed health insurance exchange.Ohio Governor John Kasic