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Ohioans eligible to enroll in Obamacare Oct. 1

Tom Jackson • Sep 19, 2013 at 2:00 PM

They’ll be joined by U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, who also plans to use the new health insurance marketplace to buy health insurance.

In a phone conference with reporters, Brown said when he entered Congress 20 years ago — he began with the House before moving over to the Senate — he promised he would not accept Congressional health coverage until everyone else in America had access to health insurance.

Now that a key provision of the Affordable Care Act, or Obama Care, is going into effect, Brown said he will use the health insurance marketplace to buy his own health insurance.

Enrollment starts Oct. 1 for coverage in a private health insurance policy in effect Jan. 1.

Brown apparently won’t qualify for a subsidy and will have to pay the full premium for the coverage, but many other Ohioans can get help.

Ron Pollack, president of Families USA, a group that lobbies for health care coverage, told reporters that people living alone who earn less than $46,000, and families of three below $78,000, will be among those who qualify for help.

“Those people who need the most help will get the most help,” Pollack said.

For example, he said, a family of three with an income of $29,000 will get a subsidy of almost $7,300, covering most of the cost of a $8,250 premium.

Although the “carrot” to buy health insurance starts soon, the stick is also due to arrive. Beginning in 2014, anyone who can afford health insurance but doesn’t buy it by the end of March 2014 will pay a federal income tax penalty. The penalty is small in 2014, but will continue to rise, Pollard said.

Facts about Obama Care provisions going into effect soon:

• People who need information about buying health insurance can go to healthcare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596.

• An estimated 916,000 Ohioans will qualify for subsidies to help them buy health insurance. q Enrollment starts Oct. 1, but coverage goes into effect Jan. 1.

• The federal government will operate the health care marketplace for Ohio because Gov. John Kasich and the Ohio Legislature declined to operate a state marketplace.

• Starting Jan. 1, Ohioans with existing serious health conditions can no longer be denied coverage or charged more for coverage. This provision is expected to help more than 5 million Ohioans.

• Grants have been awarded to Ohio organizations that will supply “navigators,” people who will provide counseling on choosing a health insurance program. The Ohio Association of Foodbanks will provide navigators and hold a series of enrollment events across the state, said Joree Jacobs, a spokeswoman for the group. She said people should go to healthcare. gov first, then call the association for help at 1-800-648-1176.

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