Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor have made it crystal clear since their narrow election in 2010 that they are no fans of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act [ACA] passed in March of 2010, which clamped down on the terrible practices of private health insurance companies that routinely raised premium rates and discriminated at will against others based on their age, gender and other life-style or health factors.
Unfortunately, Ohio’s top two leaders are strikingly out of step with most of America. Over the last seven and a half months, two-thirds of Americans, on average, have been satisfied with how the healthcare system is working for them, Gallup reported. “Less than a week before the health insurance exchanges reopen, these results show that Americans who have health insurance (70%) are almost twice as likely as those who don’t (37%) to be satisfied with the healthcare system,” Gallup’s Rebecca Riffkin wrote.
And what might be even more disconcerting to Ohio’s dynamic duo, Gallup also reported Friday that over seven in 10 Americans who bought new health insurance policies through the government exchanges earlier this year rate the quality of their healthcare and their healthcare coverage as “excellent” or “good.” Frank Newport wrote that “These positive evaluations are generally similar to the reviews that all insured Americans give to their health insurance.”
Elected by fewer than 25 percent of registered voters to a second and final four-year term on Nov. 4, Kasich and Taylor have done little to promote the historic advancement in how America opens access to healthcare, which according to experts has performed mostly as advertised, despite overt Republican hostility to it. Kasich and Taylor are reliably chirping the same anti-Obamacare song sung by national Republicans, who regained control of Congress two Tuesday ago and promised to repeal and replace it.
But with what? Neither Gov. Kasich, who served as a congressman for 18 years and signed the 1990’s Republican manifesto called “Contract With America,” which contained not one word on the subject of healthcare, or Lt. Gov. Taylor, who also heads-up the state Department of Insurance that regulates health care insurers, has a plan to replace it. Returning to the broken, confusing and costly system Obamacare has done much to cure seems to be Kasich and Taylor’s pick by default. Ohio’s top two statewide leaders let Washington set up Ohio’s healthcare exchange instead of doing it themselves, claiming the costs were too much for the state to bear. Resetting America’s health care system back to the terrible landscape before the ACA, where companies could and did make any number of policy decisions that eliminated millions from purchasing health care because it wasn’t affordable and socking the rising costs for the uninsured on everyone else is the Kasich-Taylor plan.
It’s no surprise, then, that on the eve of the second open enrollment period for the ACA, Ohio’s 25-percent solution team of Kasich-Taylor offers little to nothing on their state websites to inform all the Ohioans who might qualify for Obamacare and its healthcare subsidies that, starting tomorrow, they can apply for affordable healthcare coverage, without fear health insurers will deny them, jack up their insurance rates or dump them once their health falters and costs roll in to regain health.
But help from another reliable source was handy today. Ohio’s senior U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, elected to a second term in 2012 over another Obamacare hater, State Treasurer Josh Mandel, notes on Obamacare eve that since the beginning of this year, more than 646,000 Ohioans have obtained a new health insurance plan through the health law—many for the first time.
“In just a year, it is clear that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is working. Because of the health law: Insurance companies can no longer increase your premiums without justification, and they can no longer deny coverage if you have a pre-existing conditions, or place annual or lifetime caps on your coverage; You’re entitled to free preventive care in the form of cancer screenings, vaccines, annual check-ups, well-woman visits, and some prescription drugs; More than 97,000 young Ohioans are able to stay on their parents’ insurance until their 26th birthday – giving them the chance to focus on their careers, education, or future plans; All Americans have access to insurance coverage for lifesaving clinical trials,” Brown said via email Friday.
Ohioans now have 16 different insurance carriers—up from the 12 that participated last year—to chose from during this year’s open enrollment period. The embarrassing performance of ACA exchange websites last year made great fodder for GOP leaders to ridicule the ACA as unworkable. The website was remedied then, and Sen. Brown said it’s been further updated and improved “so that you can easily compare plans side-by-side and learn about financial assistance that may be available.”
Lt. Gov. Taylor made hay out of insurance premiums rising, due she said to Obamacare. Gallup previously reported that Americans’ level of satisfaction with the healthcare system partly depends on their party identification. “Currently, about three in four Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are satisfied with their healthcare situation, compared with 60% of Republicans and Republican leaners,” the report observes. What Lt. Gov. Taylor she said was technically true, but she placed the blame on the ACA instead of where it should have fallen, at the feet of private health insurers. The new healthcare law forced health insurers to stop selling junk policies that didn’t meet the new, higher standards mandated by Obamcare, which was built to target the 15 percent of Americans who don’t obtain their healthcare insurance through an employer.
Sen. Brown reminds Ohio that 85 percent of Ohioans who purchased health insurance through the marketplace last year received an average of $3,000 in tax credits to help them pay for the cost of insurance. Moreover, more than nine million Americans—including 154,688 Ohioans—are now healthier and better protected because they signed up for insurance through last year’s marketplace. However, many uninsured Ohioans have failed to sign up for health insurance coverage under the health law, whose provisions protects individuals and families against unexpected and costly health care costs.
The governor and lietenant governor should understand that the uninsured rate in the U.S. was 13.4% in the third quarter of 2014, the lowest quarterly average Gallup has found in daily measurement of this metric going back to 2008.
ACA-Obamcare coverage can be found at www.healthcare.gov. Beginning on Saturday, November 15, 2014 and running through February 15, 2015, eligible Ohioans can sign up for health insurance coverage in one of four different ways:
1) Online – Visit Healthcare.gov to apply and enroll through the internet.
2) Over the Phone – Call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596 with questions or to enroll over the phone.
3) In-Person – Visit LocalHelp.HealthCare.gov or call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596 to get a list of people in your community who are trained and certified to help you enroll in person.
4) Paper Application – Call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596 or download a paper application from Healthcare.gov to fill out and send in.
Even if you were one of the 154,688 Ohioans who purchased health insurance through the Healthcare.gov exchange last year, Sen. Brown says it’s to visit the exchange to update information and review options. Insurance purchased through the exchange last year will end on December 31, 2014 unless your current health plan is renewed or a new health plan is selected through the exchange. As costs for current plans may have changed, it’s advisable to return to the marketplace to review options that could result in saving sof hundreds of dollars.