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Published: Friday, 10/10/2003

Low-cost medical plan enrolls 1,500

More than 1,500 people have enrolled in Toledo's CareNet program for free or low-cost medical care even as demand appears to be rising.

Mayor Jack Ford yesterday said a recent U.S. Census report shows the number of people with no health insurance has gone up. Nationally, the number of people without health insurance rose from 14.6 percent in 2001 to 15.2 percent for 2002.

Mr. Ford said, based on statewide figures, about 49,000 Lucas County residents are believed to have no insurance - up from the estimate of 44,000 used since last year.

Begun in January, CareNet is designed to get those without access to medical care to doctors and hospitals at no cost. To qualify, enrollees can't be eligible for government programs, such as Medicare or Medicaid, and must be at double the federal poverty level or less. Individuals can make up to $17,960, and a household of four can make up to $36,800.

The mayor, who set the effort in motion last year, said 1,500 people have signed up and there are slots for another 1,000.

“I urge anyone without health insurance who hears this message: Sign up now at any one of our eight enrollment locations,” he said.

First Call for Help takes calls for CareNet at 419-246-4636, or enroll at www.hcno.org.

The program's administrative costs are funded by the city of Toledo, Mercy Health Partners, ProMedica Health System, and others. Treatment and doctor's visits are given as donations by the caregivers, Ms. Ruma said.

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