Wednesday, Jan 17, 2018
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Medical

Open enrollment for health insurance exchanges ends Friday

Time is running out for those still looking to sign up for health insurance through the marketplace exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act.

Friday marks the end of the open enrollment period.

“It's definitely been a steady demand,” said Julie Grasson, assistant director of Toledo/Lucas County CareNet, one of several area organizations to offer enrollment assistance. Events on Tuesday and Thursday are booked solid, she said, and organizers have added an extra date Friday. 

Ohioans selected 80,498 plans from the exchange from Nov. 1 to Dec. 2, according to numbers released last week by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Americans selected more than 3.6 million plans in that time period. 

Until this summer, several rural northwest Ohio counties faced the prospect of zero insurers offering plans on the exchange.

Paulding County, which at one time was the lone county in the country to be without any options, will be covered by CareSource in 2018, the Ohio Department of Insurance announced in August. Every county in the state now has at least one insurer offering plans on the exchange. 

Open enrollment will end Friday after six weeks, a period half as long as the open enrollment time frame in previous years. Additionally, significant federal cuts to funding for programs that offer enrollment guidance prompted the shut down of navigator services in Ohio this year.

But those looking for help in choosing a plan do have other options in northwest Ohio. 

“For individuals who have not signed up ever in the past, the process is a lot easier than it was in the beginning,” Ms. Grasson said. “It’s been streamlined.”

Toledo/Lucas County CareNet and Neighborhood Health Association will have certified application counselors from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday at the Toledo Lucas County Public Library’s Main Library, 325 Michigan St.

Call 419-842-0800 to make an appointment with CareNet or 419-214-5700  to make an appointment with Neighborhood Health Association. 

The Toledo-Lucas County Health Department also has walk-in hours and appointments with certified application counselors Monday through Friday at its downtown location, 635 N. Erie St. Call 419-213-4307 for an appointment.

At the department’s Western Lucas County Clinic, walk-ins and appointments are available Thursday from 9 a.m.to noon at the clinic, 330 Oak Terrace Blvd., Holland. Call 419-213-4536 for an appointment.

To compare available plans and estimate associated costs, visit healthcare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596. To find other assistance options outside of Lucas County, click on “Find Local Help” on the site’s homepage.

Contact Lauren Lindstrom at llindstrom@theblade.com, 419-724-6154, or on Twitter @lelindstrom.

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