The News-Herald: Groups try to educate Ohioans on health care coverage options
By Amy Popik, The News-Herald
The Health Insurance Marketplace is set to open Tuesday for people to view and select health care coverage options available to them.
Several organizations have been working to educate Ohioans about the marketplace, Affordable Care Act, and how changes on Tuesday may affect them.
Cathy Levine, executive director of Universal Healthcare Action Network of Ohio or UHCAN, said the organization has met with people of all different backgrounds to inform them about the new coverage opportunities and assisting them on the enrollment process.
“We have been helping to build a statewide network, and we have educated other organizations on how they can become certified application counselors,” she said. “Because of our expertise, we try to present accurate information about the marketplace and enrollment.”
The marketplace will have coverage options from private insurance companies that will cover “essential health benefits,” which include emergency services, maternity and newborn care, prescription drugs, preventative and wellness services and more.
Some might be eligible for lower costs with co-payments, deductibles and tax credits.
“It’s a private solution rather than a public option,” Levine said. “It’s not a perfect solution to accessible and affordable health care, but it’s a step in the right direction.”
Coverage will begin Jan. 1 for those who are enrolled by Dec. 15. The market is open until March 31 and will reopen later in the year, Levine said.
“We are making private health insurance affordable for people who are otherwise shut out,” she said. “It is going to have a huge impact on people who are working without insurance … (and) those who have incomes but can’t buy insurance without help.”
UHCAN has had several meetings to educate the public on the health care changes, as well as training people to educate others in the community.
“Ohioans have been so flooded with misinformation and downright lies about the law that many have just turned off and others are just understandably very confused,” Levine said.
Recently, UHCAN had a meeting at University Hospital to speak to people about the upcoming marketplace opening.
Other organizations in Ohio do not feel the same as UHCAN about the Health Insurance Marketplace.
Ohio Liberty Coalition and Americans For Prosperity, Ohio Chapter, both oppose the new health care policy from the federal government.
“Obamacare was a means to make health care more affordable and accessible, and that’s not true,” said Eli Miller, director of Americans For Prosperity, Ohio Chapter. “It turned out to be a job killer, and we don’t want to see any more (Ohioans) lose their job because of this.”
Ted Stevenot, president of Ohio Liberty Coalition, said “It’s not affordable and not a free market solution to the health care problem.”
Ohio Liberty Coalition is a grassroots organization that advocates for limited government, fiscal responsibility and a free market. Similarly, Americans For Prosperity is a grassroots organization that promotes small government, low taxes and less regulation.
Stevenot said Ohio made a statement in 2011 when the Health Care Freedom Amendment passed in all 88 counties.
“It was a bipartisan statement that we don’t want the federal government to take over our health care,” he said.
Miller said when Cleveland Clinic recently needed to cut jobs because of the government’s health care policy, it was a sign that jobs and businesses are going to suffer.
“A lot of people don’t want this to take place,” he said. “There is a lot of hesitation.”
Stevenot would like to see more jobs and prosperity in Ohio, so that more people will be able to have greater opportunities.
Ohio Liberty Coalition has been asking Ohioans to write to their local representatives as a way to share their opinions about the health care changes.
“(People) are going to be unhappy because there will be less choice, higher prices … (and) prescription lists and doctor lists will be limited.” Stevenot said. “When it proves true that it’s a mess, I hope people will embrace their civic responsibility to find representatives to fix the problem and vote for them.”
Americans for Prosperity has been running TV and radio ads, town hall meetings and other events.