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ACA enrollment down as deadline nears

Fewer people have been buying individual health insurance this year, with sign-ups nationally down 11 percent compared to last year, as the deadline to enroll approaches midnight Saturday.

People without health insurance through their employers, Medicaid or Medicare can buy health insurance through the marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act.

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The marketplace and Medicaid expansion have helped push Ohio’s uninsured rate down to 6 percent in 2017 and more than 34,000 people in the nine county region bought insurance on the marketplace for 2018.

Consumers in many counties had more options to chose from this year, including Anthem returning to the marketplace after leaving in 2018.

However, the average price for individual insurance has been increasing each year. For 2019 the weighted average premium is $6,161.56, an increase of 6.3 percent, according to the Ohio Department of Insurance.

Not everyone will notice that increase. About 75 percent of marketplace enrollees can get their premiums subsidized based on their incomes. Some people are eligible for $0 premiums after tax credits are factored in, but those plans typically also come with higher deductibles.

Dayton-based CareSource is among insurers selling marketplace plans in Ohio and has been promoting that its plans — in contrast to many of the competing short-term plans — have all of the essential health benefits including prescription drug coverage, maternity care, mental health and substance use disorder services.

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The insurer had about 90,000 marketplace enrollees during last open enrollment season — a 40 percent increase from the previous cycle.

Steve Ringel, CareSource Ohio Market president, said the marketplace nationally will most likely see a slight decline compared to last year.

For CareSource, he said insurance company’s initial enrollment projections indicate there has been a greater increase in its marketplace members maintaining their current coverage.

“Based on the numbers we have seen so far we anticipate a strong enrollment finish this year,” he said in a statement.

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