Ohioans with ACA insurance urged to review options. Here's why. [Journal-News, Hamilton, Ohio]
Hamilton Journal News (OH)
Nov. 3—People who get health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace can now pick or change plans for 2022.
Open enrollment season started Nov. 1. Last year more than 201,000 Ohioans signed up, including more than 28,000 in the nine county region.
This year is not the time to leave signing up to auto pilot, experts say. Examining your options could save you hundreds of dollars on premiums.
That's because this season, more subsidies are available. A host of other changes to take note include a longer open enrollment and more plans available in many counties.
"This can be a complicated and confusing process, but we're here to help as a consumer protection agency and insurance resource," Ohio Department of Insurance Director Judith French said in a letter to the public.
The state's website also has more information, French said, and the department's health insurance experts are ready to answer questions, which can be reached at 1-800-686-1526 and email [email protected].
In recent years, open enrollment in Ohio ended in six weeks. Now open enrollment will last until Jan 15. People however need to sign up by Dec. 15 to get coverage by Jan. 1. After that, coverage will likely kick in Feb. 1.
"We always encourage folks to enroll early. That way you don't get caught up in the rush at the end," said Deirdra Yocum, VP of Ohio Market Operations at Dayton-based CareSource, which sells marketplace plans as one of its products.
Another change is that starting in 2022, people who make less than 150% of the federal poverty level will be allowed to open enroll throughout the year. That equals $19,320 per year for a single person in 2022, $32,940 for family of three.
The average sticker price for an individual Ohio plan next year will be a $5,941 annual premium, according to state data. That's up about 4.7% compared to $5,671 annual premium for 2021.
However, most people don't pay sticker price, but get a subsidy to lower the cost.
Higher subsidies are available through temporary changes made by American Rescue Plan Act, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. People who didn't take advantage of special enrollment seasons earlier in the year are advised to examine their options and see if they can get a better premium subsidy.
Also, premium costs could bump up next year for people who let their 2021 plans get passively renewed. And some people who have been in "bronze" high deductible plans could get a better deal by switching to a midlevel "silver" plan because of the ARPA changes.
Additionally, some counties have more options available this year. In 2018, some local counties only had one option available but all counties in the Miami Valley have six options for 2022.
"We're encouraging people to shop because the dynamics have changed, and they're continually changing, " said Steve Ringel, CareSource Ohio Market President. CareSource added nine more counties in Ohio to its marketplace coverage for 2022.
Shopping for options can be confusing and people can get one-on-one help understanding options, with local available help listed at localhelp.healthcare.gov.
The costs of the marketplace plans remain a challenge for many consumers — an average deductible this year was $4,816 for a midlevel plan.
"The only thing affordable about the Affordable Care Act is the premium," said Bradford Nickels, who enrolls people in marketplace plans via his local brokerage Ohio Benefits Group.
While most people get subsidies, the average cost of premiums have been climbing over the last nine years for people who make too much to qualify. The average annual net premium in Ohio was originally $2,650 in 2013 and is now $5,941 for 2022.
How to get personal help enrolling
There are several ways to apply and enroll into affordable health coverage: — Use HealthCare.gov to apply online. — Call the federal Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596, which provides assistance in over 200 languages. TTY users should call 1-855-889-4325. — Find local help in your area, searching by city, state or zip code at localhelp.healthcare.gov.
About the Author
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Kaitlin Schroeder is a health care and business reporter with the Dayton Daily News. She covers the local hospitals, CareSource, public health, nursing homes, caregiving, and other related topics.
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