COLUMBUS, Ohio - The federal health insurance marketplace is now open, and this fall, there's more help to guide Ohioans through the process of finding coverage.
After cutbacks over the past few years, the federal government has quadrupled the number of navigators to help people find health insurance for 2022.
Zach Reat is the director of health initiatives with the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, which is coordinating the "Get Covered Ohio" campaign. He said there are more than 50 trained, certified and licensed navigators in Ohio who can simplify the process.
"We can help people enter in all of their information to qualify for tax credits and subsidies," said Reat, "understand the different health insurance plans that are available, and then make sure they are selecting the plan that is best for them and fits into their budget."
More than ten health insurance companies are offering marketplace plans in Ohio for 2022, and all but three counties have three or more options.
December 15 is the deadline to sign up for marketplace coverage that begins January 1. Appointments with a navigator can be made online, at 'getcoveredohio.org.'
Reat explained that the American Rescue Plan is providing improved financial assistance that can lower premiums, with four out of five people eligible for a plan that may cost $10 a month or less. Also, he noted, millions more people will qualify for tax incentives to lower their premiums.
"So, even if people have been to the marketplace and found the plans unaffordable in years past," said Reat, "it's definitely worth going and shopping, and you can do that again with the assistance of a navigator."
Some 201,000 Ohioans were enrolled in plans this year, about 2% more than in 2020. Reat said most are people who don't have access to insurance through an employer.
"Like people who are self-employed," said Reat, "people who are working several different sort-of gig economy jobs, and other individuals maybe who are doing consulting work, or other work that's not through a larger employer that offers health insurance."
Navigators can also help adults and families with low incomes enroll in Medicaid.