An estimated 6% of Ohioans don't have health insurance.
COLUMBUS, Ohio - While Ohioans still have plenty of time to shop for holiday gifts, the deadline to shop for health insurance on the federal insurance marketplace is here. People in need of coverage starting Jan. 1 need to select a plan and enroll by midnight tonight.
Liz Thuranira, grassroots organizer and southwest story collector for UHCAN (Universal Health Care Action Network) Ohio, works as a navigator - people available to help other select and enroll in a plan. She said the issues of cost and affordability are common concerns, but explained that health insurance doesn't have to be costly.
"A majority of people who are applying for Marketplace programs do qualify for a heavily discounted tax credit," she said, "and people are generally shocked with the amount of money that they are able to save on their premium."
Open enrollment actually runs until Jan. 15, but for plans purchased after today, coverage doesn't begin until Feb. 1. In-person, online and telephone appointments with a navigator can be scheduled online at 'getcoverdohio.org, and the federal healthcare.gov website has a 24/7 helpline available as well.
About 200,000 Ohioans were enrolled in marketplace plans for 2021. Thuranira said it's an important option for anyone who doesn't have employer-sponsored coverage or doesn't qualify for Medicare or Medicaid. She shared that a colleague recently helped a mother of two find coverage after going years without health insurance.
"Hearing the relief in her voice, knowing they are now covered and they are now able to receive basic care - like wellness visits and vaccinations - is just so heartwarming," she said.
About half of Ohioans with health insurance have coverage through their employers. Since open enrollment started in November, 4.6 million Americans have signed up for coverage, including more than 900,000 new customers.