Government says number of uninsured Ohioans cut nearly in half

FILE — Protesters hold signs with estimates of the numbers who could lose health insurance in each state if the verdict of King v. Burwell went against the Affordable Care Act, outside the Supreme Court in Washington, March 4, 2015. The Republican plan to delay repealing the ACA could cause a zombie market, not dead, but not alive, that would suffer from many of the maladies of the existing system, and quite a few more. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)

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FILE — Protesters hold signs with estimates of the numbers who could lose health insurance in each state if the verdict of King v. Burwell went against the Affordable Care Act, outside the Supreme Court in Washington, March 4, 2015. The Republican plan to delay repealing the ACA could cause a zombie market, not dead, but not alive, that would suffer from many of the maladies of the existing system, and quite a few more. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)

The percentage of medically uninsured Ohioans has been cut nearly in half since the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, allowing 664,000 state residents to gain coverage over the past five years, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The report shows the uninsured rate in Ohio fell from 12.3 percent to 6.5 percent from 2010 to 2015 — the steepest decline in the state’s uninsured rate since the Medicare and Medicaid health care programs were signed into law in the 1960s, HHS said.

ExploreRelated: ACA rates rise 13 percent in Ohio

The uninsured rate has fallen in every state since 2010, but the decline has been sharpest in states that have expanded access to the state and federal Medicaid program to more low-income, able-bodied adults under the health care law.

In Ohio, 381,000 residents have gained coverage through expanded Medicaid, while 212,046 have signed up for federally subsidized individual and family health plans sold on the state’s Health Insurance Marketplace, an insurance exchange accessible in Ohio at HealthCare.gov, HHS reports.

HHS officials said they released the comprehensive report Tuesday — which in addition to coverage data offers information on increases in doctor visits and other measures of access care and outcomes — as a counter to those who support President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to repeal key parts of the ACA in early 2017, but delay the implementation of repeal for two-to-three years.

“As our nation debates changes to the health care system, it’s important to take stock of where we are today compared to where we were before the Affordable Care Act,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell. “Whether Ohioans get coverage through an employer, Medicaid, the individual market, or Medicare, they have better health coverage and care today as a result of the ACA.”

ExploreRelated: Most Ohioans shielded from Obamacare increases

But Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, said despite the fact that more people have gained coverage under the health care law, commonly referred to as Obamacare, it still needs re-working.

“You’ve seen premiums rise in Ohio, and across the country, as a result of Obamacare, said Antani, referring to HHS reports that un-subsidized premiums for individual marketplace coverage in many states will rise by double- and even triple-digits next year. “The problem is that while some people may be getting health care now, it’s certainly not affordable. I do think Obamacare is going to get repealed…and be replaced with something that’s more patient-centered.”

Locally, downtown Dayton-based CareSource — a nonprofit health insurer that sells marketplace insurance in four states, including Ohio — reminded consumers that Thursday is the deadline to sign up for marketplace coverage beginning the first of next year.

“We know the landscape has changed significantly for this open enrollment period, and it is important that all Ohioans explore their options to find the best plan for their family,” said Steve Ringel, president of CareSource’s Ohio market. “CareSource remains committed to those who purchase health insurance through the exchange.”

According to HHS, increased health coverage has not only translated into better health outcomes for the newly insured, it also has benefited thousands of Ohioans with employer-sponsored insurance, which covers the vast majority of Ohioans.

More than 6.8 million Ohioans have health coverage through work. But in the 10 years before the health reform law was passed, average annual growth in family premiums for employer coverage rose at an average annual rate of 7.1 percent, according to HHS, which found that the annual rate hike declined to 5.1 percent from 2010 through 2015.

That means the average premium for people who have health insurance through work in Ohio is $2,300 lower this year than it would have been if increases in premiums had matched what was seen in the decade before the health reform law was passed, according to HHS.

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