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Overhaul Ohio Health Care…Can It Be Done?

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President Obama wants to overhaul U.S. and Ohio health care. Can he do it? He took his first step by naming a University of North Dakota  health care expert to head the federal agency in charge of improving access to care in the United States.

Mary Wakefield was chosen to head the Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department. This agency will oversee the release of $2.5 billion in the economic stimulus signed by President Obama. Ohio health care programs will likely see some of the money, but it may take quite a while to trickle down to you and I.

The current system faces a shortage of nurses and has many individuals and families without  health insurance. Can Obama push through a bill in Congress ?

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Ohio Health Exchange Open Enrollment

The Associated Press reports that President Obama plans to move quickly.

“They don’t intend to blink. They intend to plow ahead,” said health economist Len Nichols of the nonpartisan New America Foundation. “Health reform is seen as essential to balancing the federal budget and economic recovery in the long run.”

Ohio health care will change, but it will take time. Premiums will likely reduce, but the major  companies, such as Anthem Blue Cross, Aetna and UnitedHealthCare, will still be able to offer a wide variety of policies. Smaller carriers, such as Celtic may not be able to offer as competitive of a product.

But if major changes are to be made,ultimately, somebody will have to pay for it. Whether its the government (state or local), consumers, the rich, the poor (or both), extra money must come from somebody’s pocket. Will it be yours?

UPDATE: August 2011. Obamacare is now the law of the land…at least for now. Stay tuned for a possible Supreme Court ruling in 2012.

UPDATE: August 2013. Wow! Has it really been two years since the last update? Open Enrollment starts in October here in the Buckeye state and federal subsidies will be available if your income is below 400% of the Federal Poverty Level.

What Do You Do If You Lose Your Job?

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If you live in Ohio and have recently lost your job…you’re not alone. The state has lost more than 260,000 jobs since 2000, about 5 percent of all jobs. The hardest hit areas have been Trumbull County, losing 20.5 percent of its jobs, and Montgomery County, losing 14.1% of its jobs.

President Barack Obama’s health care ideas are now facing delay, when Tom Daschle, who was chosen to head the initiative, suddenly withdrew his nomination for the health secretary position. Health care reform has taken a back seat to more important matters…such as the failing economy and helping auto manufacturers and some financial institutions.

If you find yourself out of a job, between jobs, or your employer is reducing your hours, your health insurance may be affected.  In many cases, your current coverage extends for a few months (or less), and then the search for an affordable individual medical plan begins. But there are many affordable options, including those persons with serious health conditions.

Cobra is one option. Under this program, workers laid off from companies with 20 or more employees can extend their employee-provided health insurance for 18 months. Of course…premiums are often extremely expensive. And with the current recession and no end in sight, Cobra’s premiums are not a viable health insurance option for many Ohioians.

However, if you have no significant medical issues, such as cancer, diabetes or heart disease, you may qualify for an individual  policy. The application process is simple and physicals are rarely required. The most popular Ohio companies are Anthem Blue Cross, UnitedHealthCare, Medical Mutual, Humana and Aetna. Kaiser and SummaCare are great options in the Northern portion of the state.

No job and bo work get health insurance

Get Affordable Ohio Healthcare When Not Working

For example, in Franklin County, a nonsmoking family of four (Parents-Age 40 & Children-Ages 8 & 10), with no medical issues, can buy a “catastrophic health” plan for about $140 per month. A “comprehensive” plan, which offers many more coverages, would cost between $250 and $330 per month, depending on the major medical deductible.

Naturally, prices will be substantially less if only one person is insured. Also, existing medical conditions can raise the rate. With your own policy, your coverage is portable, so you may keep the policy as long as you want. Also…with individual coverage, unlike group coverage, your rate is not affected by a large amount of unhealthy persons in the group.

The Office Of Unemployment Compensation can also assist you with other matters besides your medical benefits. They will help you find a job, estimate your unemployment compensation, discuss eligibility requirements and many other helpful topics.

Ohioquotes.com offers free quote comparisons and you never pay any fees for using our website. Feel free to contact us or use the quote engine which gives you instant rates. 

UPDATE: September 2013. A lot has changed since the original article was written in 2009. However, unemployment in Ohio is still a problem. And so is underemployment, where workers often accept positions in which they are vastly overqualified for.

However, a big positive change is that regardless of your health status, you will be able to find quality benefits if you lose your job. And since a federal tax subsidy is now based on your individual or family income, you’ll probably pay much less for a policy now, compared to prices in 2009. If you fall under 400% of the “Federal Poverty Level,” you are entitled to financial aid.

Get Best HSA Rates In Ohio

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Get the best HSA rates in Ohio and save money on your health insurance premiums. We help you choose the lowest available prices for Health Savings Accounts from the most recognized and respected companies in the Buckeye state. Along with lower costs, you’ll be able to tax-deduct qualified deposits and allow unused money to accumulate without risk of loss.

A Health Savings Account is a tax-favored savings contract that is combined with a high-deductible health insurance plan. HSAs  pay for existing medical expenses and save money for future qualified expenses without any tax liability (assuming no early withdraws of previously tax-deducted money). Since the late 1990s, they have become very popular with consumers that typically don’t incur a lot of medical expenses but still want to maintain quality benefits.

They also will continue to be available when Ohio Health Exchange plans are offered through Open Enrollment (View prices on our website). Although there will be a few changes, (such as the mandatory inclusion of maternity and other benefits) a portion of your premium may be eligible to be paid by the federal government. The lower your income, the more likely you are to qualify.

Ohio Health Savings Accounts Online

Ohio HSA Plans Save You Money

The first step is establishing a high-deductible health insurance plan (HDHP). These plans are available through most Ohio health insurance companies, including UnitedHealthCare, Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross and Medical Mutual. The HDHP is an inexpensive catastrophic health insurance plan that generally does not pay for the first few thousand dollars of health care (the “deductible.”). However, after the deductible, expenses are covered at 80% or 100%, depending on the plan. We recommend the 100% option, even though it is a bit more expensive.

You have complete control over the deposits in your policy. You also decide the types of investments and how much risk to take (if any) to make with the money in the account in order to make it grow. Some of the funds in your HSA can come from the money you save on your insurance, since an HDHP usually costs less than a regular medical policy. We recommend the safest option which is a fixed-interest account. While it’s true your rate of return will be lower, it will be substantially safer.

Once the HDHP is in place, the HSA can be set up through banks, credit unions and other institutions. There are many very good Ohio Health Insurance Accounts. For specific details on rates and coverage, please request a free quote at the top of the page.

Oh…by the way…I have an HSA. And I have been very happy with its performance.

Ohio Health Care…Where Do We Go From Here?

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What is the future of healthcare here in Ohio? Single-payer system? Government-run? Let market conditions dictate rates for consumers and allow insurance companies to compete for consumer business?

 

Ohio Health Care

Ohio Health Care Exchange

 

Ohio Governor Ted Strickland has said that, by 2011, he hopes to reduce the number of uninsureds by 500,000. He also hopes to increase the number of  small businesses that offer health insurance to their workers.

Generally, uninsured Ohioans:

·Live in households with a full-time employee

·Graduated high school

·Have been uninsured for more than 12 months

·Live in urban areas

When compared to insured residents, uninsured Ohioans:

·Are in poorer health

·Receive less  care

·Receive less preventive attention

·Are less productive

·Have more medical bills

·Live shorter lives

So…without bankrupting the state and unnecessarily charging consumers, what can be done?

Ohio health care coverage for uninsured residents must focus on prevention, continuity of care, and ease of use. Existing public and private health care systems should be the backbone of the reform. Major health insurance companies should remain an important part of the solution…not just taken for granted.

Some  principles that reflect Governor Strickland’s goal of reducing the number of  uninsureds are:

·We  must take personal responsibility for reducing health care costs, which includes taking proactive actions to keep ourselves healthy. Naturally, getting annual physicals is a start.

·Reform must be sustainable, and have a measurable impact. Obamacare may not be the answer.

·All residents, including people with serious medical conditions, must have access to affordable health care.

·Ohio health care coverage should include ways that allow its residents to maintain good health, and seek medical help, if needed, as quickly as possible.

One of the best ways to encourage individuals to obtain quality and affordable coverage is to provide tax credits for a portion of the premiums, and make preventative treatment a condition to continue those tax credits.

Perhaps, by 2011, such an initiative will become a reality. But don’t hold your breath.

Approximately 1.3 million Ohioans are without health insurance. Most of them do not have access to affordable coverage. And more than likely, many are not receiving the appropriate medical treatment to maintain healthy lifestyles.


UPDATE: Actually it is 2011 right now (June) and there are still plenty of uninsured here in Ohio. National health care reform has created the state high risk pool which helps a little. But the real test will come in 2014. A lot can happen between now and then. Preventive benefits are included on most policies now so that’s a positive.
UPDATE: 9-24-2013. Open Enrollment for the Ohio Health Exchange begins in about eight days. The high risk pool is gone and will be replaced by a new medical delivery system where everyone gets approved when they apply for coverage. Tax subsidies can potentially pay up to 100% of premiums.
Premiums will rise for many individuals and families, especially if they do not receive any subsidy assistance.  And of course, it is now against the law if you do not buy qualified and approved coverage by January 1. The $95 per year tax will increase every year. In 2016, the tax penalty can be as much as 2.5% of your household income.

Which Ohio Health Insurance Companies Are In The Marketplace?

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There are many Ohio health insurance companies that offer individual and family coverage to consumers . Anthem Blue Cross, UnitedHealthCare, Medical Mutual, and Aetna are the four largest carriers. But there are numerous other reputable carriers that offer Marketplace medical coverage on the Exchange. And you don’t have to answer any medical questions and you can’t be turned down because of pre-existing conditions.

However, although Medical Mutual and Anthem will be active participants “on” the Marketplace,” UnitedHealthcare (Golden Rule) and Aetna will only offer policies “away” from the Exchange. That is, they will offer plans that may not contain all 10 “essential health benefits” that Exchange plans have. Of course, the price may be quite a bit less than the other options.

CareSource and HealthSpan are two carriers that will be offering policies to consumers. Molina  and Ambetter will also offer coverage in certain areas. Ambetter (Buckeye Community Health Plan) will offer vision and adult dental options which should be reasonably priced.

The names of the policies have evolved and changed over the last 10 years. “Saver” and “Limited” descriptions are rarely used any more since there are now a myriad of required benefits that must be included on every plan sold on the Exchange.

To help you select the most affordable plan, a comprehensive list of the major providers is shown below:

Anthem Blue Cross is the largest Ohio health insurance company, providing coverage to almost one out of every four insureds. A wide variety of plans are available, including “Blue Access Plan 2,” Anthem’s most comprehensive policy. The “Value” plans offer substantial discounts in exchange for limitations of office visit and prescription coverage. Of course, these plan names, as previously mentioned, will change.

UPDATE: In March of 2009, Anthem introduced three new  plans. The “Premier” plan is a comprehensive policy featuring lower out-of-pocket costs. The “SmartSense” plan is a comprehensive plan with some limitations in benefits. And the “Lumenos HSA” plan ha some new features.

Medical Mutual of Ohio (MMO) is one of the oldest carriers. Recently, they expanded their plan portfolio to include some lower-cost plans. Their smoker rates are very competitive, and MMO’s Health Savings Account (HSA) policies (Wellness plans) feature some of the best rates in the state. Their 0% coinsurance plan is very popular. More Medical Mutual information can be found here.

UnitedHealthCare (UHC) offers a broad range of polices at extremely competitive rates. After purchasing Golden Rule Insurance company a few years ago, UHC’s market share substantially increased. Rates are based on zip codes, as opposed to the more common county-rating system. At the very high BMI (Body Mass Index) ratings, UnitedHealthcare is not as forgiving as most other companies. One of UHC’s strong points is their large portfolio of options including multiple coinsurance and copay choices.

Celtic has excellent temporary plans that are typically the lowest (or close to the lowest) cost. Their “Basic” plan has limited coverage but is very low-priced. However, in 2013, they announced they were downsizing their portfolio and would be concentrating on Medicaid-supplement policies.

Kaiser offers medical coverage to residents of Northern Ohio. Residents in the Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati areas will not be able to obtain a policy since they are not in the service area. Catholic Health Systems (CHS) purchased Kaiser’s  business in the Buckeye state in 2013 and will utilize the Healthspan Integrated Care network of providers. CHS also purchased the Summacare business in the state.

Humana is not always the lowest-cost option, but offers comprehensive plans with solid coverages. They are one of the few companies to offer maternity coverage, and have a very popular policy They limit the number of covered doctor visits but the rate is attractive.(Autograph Share 80 plan) that allows six office visits and is competitively priced. Their “short-term” rates are excellent and you’ll see them featured on our website.

Aetna began offering individual plans in 2005. Since that time, they have added many new plans, including the low-cost “Preventative and Hospital Care” policy. Overall, Aetna’s prices are extremely competitive. Their “Value” plans have become more popular in recent years.

They will not be participating in the Marketplace or Open Enrollment in 2014. However, they will offer “off-Exchange” policies that may be popular to persons that don’t qualify for the federal subsidy from Obamacare.

Time (formerly Fortis) Company, offers more policy options than almost every other carrier. But, unfortunately, their rates in Ohio are extremely uncompetitive, and they also receive an unusually high number of consumer complaints.

UPDATE: May 2011. Time (also known as “Assurant”) has reduced the number of consumer complaints. They are the only carrier in the state that offers “child only” policies, although after 2013, all carriers will offer that type of plan. Assurant will be very active in the non-Exchange market.

UPDATE: October 4th 2013. Additional options will be available on the State Marketplace ,including Molina, Coventry (HealthAmerica), Medical Health and CareSource Management Group. Aetna and UnitedHealthcare will offer plans that are not officially on the Exchange.