In an afternoon conference call with reporters, senior Obama Administration officials highlighted the key points in a new state-by-state report about the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, signed into law in March of 2010.
Cecilia Muñoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, told invited reporters that so-called Obamacare, the nickname Republicans now refer to the ACA by, will give 86 percent of Ohioans who have insurance more choices and stronger coverage than ever before on October 1, when enrollment starts, and then on January 1, 2014, when selected insurance plans become effective.
Good news for Ohioans
For the 14 percent of Ohioans who do not have insurance, or Ohio families and small businesses who buy their coverage but are not happy with it, Muñoz said a “new day is just around the corner.”
Ohio Gov. John R. Kasich and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor declined to set up and run Ohio’s health care exchange, leaving that task to the Federal government, through Health and Human Services to organize and run. Since the summer of 2012, when the Supreme Court ruled the ACA constitutional but gave states the option to expand Medicaid or not, Ohio lawmakers have found themselves unable to decide whether Ohio should expand Medicaid coverage, which estimates say could open accessibility to the Federal/State program for the poor, disabled and children by as many as 375,000 through the end of the decade.
Gov. Kasich says he wants to expand Medicaid coverage, whose costs the Federal government will pick up 100 percent for the first three years of the program, then 90 percent going forward. Tea Party activists, who pushed Kasich for a win in 2010, are dead set against expansion, claiming it represents more out of control spending by Washington.
“Soon, the Health Insurance Marketplace will provide families and small businesses who currently don’t have insurance, or are looking for a better deal, a new way to find health coverage that fits their needs and their budgets,” Kathleen Sebelius, daughter of former Ohio Governor John J. Gilligan and now Secretary for HHS, said in prepared remarks Wednesday.
The purpose of today’s conference call is to underscore that the ACA is already providing better options, better value, better health and a stronger Medicare program to the people of Ohio.
How? Take a look: [Source. HHS]
The Health Insurance Marketplace
Beginning Oct 1, the Health Insurance Marketplace will make it easy for Ohioans to compare qualified health plans, get answers to questions, find out if they are eligible for lower costs for private insurance or health programs like Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and enroll in health coverage.
By the Numbers: Uninsured Ohioans who are eligible for coverage through the Marketplace.
1,354,869 (14%) are uninsured and eligible
959,123 (71%) have a full-time worker in the family
487,961 (36%) are 18-35 years old
1,021,051 (75%) are White
232,995 (17%) are African American
53,102 (4%) are Latino/Hispanic
16,834 (1%) are Asian American or Pacific Islander
749,449 (55%) are male
1,268,826 (94%) of Ohio’s uninsured and eligible population may qualify for either tax credits to purchase coverage in the Marketplace or for Medicaid if Ohio takes advantage of the new opportunity to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
Ohio has received $1,000,000 in grants for research, planning, information technology development, and implementation of its Health Insurance Marketplace.
New coverage options for young adults
Under the health care law, if your plan covers children, you can now add or keep your children on your health insurance policy until they turn 26 years old. Thanks to this provision, over 3 million young people who would otherwise have been uninsured have gained coverage nationwide, including 97,000 young adults in Ohio.
Ending discrimination for pre-existing conditions
As many as 5,053,131 non-elderly Ohioans have some type of pre-existing health condition, including 643,049 children. Today, insurers can no longer deny coverage to children because of a pre-existing condition, like asthma or diabetes, under the health care law. And beginning in 2014, health insurers will no longer be able to charge more or deny coverage to anyone because of a pre-existing condition. The health care law also established a temporary health insurance program for individuals who were denied health insurance coverage because of a pre-existing condition. 3,380 Ohioans with pre-existing conditions have gained coverage through the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan since the program began.
Providing better value for your premium dollar through the 80/20 Rule
Health insurance companies now have to spend at least 80 cents of your premium dollar on health care or improvements to care, or provide you a refund. This means that 6,333 Ohio residents with private insurance coverage will benefit from $486,681 in refunds from insurance companies this year, for an average refund of $133 per family covered by a policy.
Scrutinizing unreasonable premium increases
In every State and for the first time under Federal law, insurance companies are required to publicly justify their actions if they want to raise rates by 10 percent or more. Ohio has received $5,091,507 under the new law to help fight unreasonable premium increases. Since implementing the law, the fraction of requests for insurance premium increases of 10 percent or more has dropped dramatically, from 75 percent to 14 percent nationally. To date, the rate review program has helped save Americans an estimated $1 billion.
Removing lifetime limits on health benefits
The law bans insurance companies from imposing lifetime dollar limits on health benefits – freeing cancer patients and individuals suffering from other chronic diseases from having to worry about going without treatment because of their lifetime limits. Already, 4,154,000 people in Ohio, including 1,542,000 women and 1,100,000 children, are free from worrying about lifetime limits on coverage. The law also restricts the use of annual limits and bans them completely in 2014.
Covering preventive services with no deductible or co-pay
The health care law requires many insurance plans to provide coverage without cost sharing to enrollees for a variety of preventive health services, such as colonoscopy screening for colon cancer, Pap smears and mammograms for women, well-child visits, and flu shots for all children and adults.
In 2011 and 2012, 71 million Americans with private health insurance gained preventive service coverage with no cost-sharing, including 2,742,000 in Ohio. And for policies renewing on or after August 1, 2012, women can now get coverage without cost-sharing of even more preventive services they need. Approximately 47 million women, including 1,852,561 in Ohio will now have guaranteed access to additional preventive services without cost-sharing.
Increasing support for community health centers
The health care law increases the funding available to community health centers nationwide. In Ohio, 34 health centers operate 180 sites, providing preventive and primary health care services to 484,631 people. Health Center grantees in Ohio have received $102,360,895 under the health care law to support ongoing health center operations and to establish new health center sites, expand services, and/or support major capital improvement projects.
Community Health Centers in all 50 states have also received a total of $150 million in federal grants to help enroll uninsured Americans in the Health Insurance Marketplace, including $3,908,021 awarded to Ohio health centers. With these funds, Ohio health centers expect to hire 75 additional workers, who will assist 84,439 Ohioans with enrollment into affordable health insurance coverage.
Investing in the primary care workforce
As a result of historic investments through the health care law and the Recovery Act, the numbers of clinicians in the National Health Service Corps are at all-time highs with nearly 10,000 Corps clinicians providing care to more than 10.4 million people who live in rural, urban, and frontier communities. The National Health Service Corps repays educational loans and provides scholarships to primary care physicians, dentists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, behavioral health providers, and other primary care providers who practice in areas of the country that have too few health care professionals to serve the people who live there. As of September 30, 2012, there were 178 Corps clinicians providing primary care services in Ohio, compared to 69 in 2008.
Preventing illness and promoting health
As of March 2012, Ohio had received $17,000,000 in grants from the Prevention and Public Health Fund created by the health care law. This new fund was created to support effective policies in Ohio, its communities, and nationwide so that all Americans can lead longer, more productive lives.
A Stronger Medicare Program
Making prescription drugs affordable for seniors
In Ohio, people with Medicare saved nearly $350 million on prescription drugs because of the Affordable Care Act. In 2012 alone, 178,931 individuals in Ohio saved over $139 million, or an average of $774 per beneficiary. In 2012, people with Medicare in the “donut hole” received a 50 percent discount on covered brand name drugs and 14 percent discount on generic drugs. And thanks to the health care law, coverage for both brand name and generic drugs will continue to increase over time until the coverage gap is closed. Nationally, over 6.6 million people with Medicare have saved over $7 billion on drugs since the law’s enactment. That’s an average savings of $1,061 per beneficiary. In addition, the average premium for a basic prescription drug plan in 2014 is projected to remain stable for the fourth year in a row, at an estimated $31 per month.
Covering preventive services with no deductible or co-pay
With no deductibles or co-pays, cost is no longer a barrier for seniors and people with disabilities who want to stay healthy by detecting and treating health problems early. In 2012 alone, an estimated 34.1 million people benefited from Medicare’s coverage of preventive services with no cost-sharing. In Ohio, 903,150 individuals with traditional Medicare used one or more free preventive service in 2012.
Protecting Medicare’s solvency
The health care law extends the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by ten years. From 2010 to 2012, Medicare spending per beneficiary grew at 1.7 percent annually, substantially more slowly than the per capita rate of growth in the economy. And the health care law helps stop fraud with tougher screening procedures, stronger penalties, and new technology. Over the last four years, the administration’s fraud enforcement efforts have recovered $14.9 billion from fraudsters. For every dollar spent on health care-related fraud and abuse activities in the last three years the administration has returned $7.90.
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