Healthcare

Nearly 40,000 Ohio residents have successfully picked health insurance plans through the new online marketplace created by President Barack Obama's law.

A report released Monday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services details enrollment numbers from Oct. 1 through Dec. 28.

Ohio is among the 36 states relying on the federal website, HealthCare.gov. Monday's figures show a significant spike in sign-ups compared with October, when the troubled website wasn't working properly. Just 1,150 Ohioans had managed to select a plan then, compared with 34,283 last month.

Ohio officials say they've received more than 17,000 applications from people seeking Medicaid health coverage through a new state website.

The online enrollment option became available Dec. 9 to eligible low-income families, along with individuals who fell under an expansion of the federal-state program for the poor and disabled.  It wasn't clear how many online applications came from those newly eligible under the Medicaid extension.

A spokesman for the state's Medicaid department says the website has been working smoothly.

Caresource
vistavision / Flickr

Today is the last day to sign up for Affordable Care Act insurance if you want it to kick in by January 1, 2014, and while Healthcare.gov has gotten much easier to use, Ohio is still far short of its enrollment goals.

When WYSO talked to Maxine Johnson last month, she had tried six times to sign up for Obamacare. She finally got a plan after major fixes to the website went through in December.

Lewis Wallace / WYSO

 The Montgomery County Department of Job and Family Services reports uninsured people in the Dayton area are starting to take advantage of the newly expanded eligibility for Medicaid.

For Ohioans seeking to get insured under the federal health care law, October was homework month and November was for browsing plans.

Expect to see more action in December. That's what groups who are helping residents get covered say. They are bracing for more people to enroll before next year.

The head of the Ohio Association of Foodbanks says people typically have three to five meetings with the organization's counselors before they feel comfortable picking a health plan in the new marketplace.

Southwest Ohio businesses have a new health care option on the table: so-called “self-insurance” allows companies to cut out the middle man.

The South Metro Regional Chamber of Commerce in Miamisburg has signed up to give its members access to a national self-insurance pool with hundreds of other businesses, which chamber director Julia Maxton says can save them money.

“It’s very clean, it’s very clear,” Maxton said. “It is something that they can understand.”

WYSO/Lewis Wallace

The federal health care marketplace, a key provision of the Affordable Care Act, opened for business Tuesday even in the midst of a government shutdown. But for groups doing outreach in Dayton, the first day was a slow one.

A crew of outreach workers stood around next to colorful tables in the parking lot of a health center Tuesday, chatting up passers-by and waiting for a mostly-absent news media to stop by.

The Federal health care Marketplace is set to open for business Tuesday, Oct. 1, and open enrollment will last for six months. Most people who can’t get employer insurance will be required to sign up for health plans under the Affordable Care Act, or pay a fee. But there’s still a lot of confusion about what exactly this will mean for the uninsured — about 1.5 million people in Ohio.

Flickr/vistavision

This week the Affordable Care Act has inspired congressional faceoffs, online poetry, and a reading of "Green Eggs and Ham" on the Senate floor. Meanwhile, the federal government is scrambling to get ready for the launch of the marketplace, where Ohio’s uninsured will shop for health plans.

The federal health care marketplace is set to open Oct. 1, and Ohio organizations are scrambling to prepare. Beginning Jan. 1, 2014, almost all Americans will be required to have health care either through an employer, through a private insurer, or through a state- or federally-run marketplace. The marketplaces will essentially be regulated online shopping centers where consumers can compare health plans and find out whether they qualify for federal subsidies.

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