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Over 8M Americans, 155K Ohioans gain health coverage through O-Care exchanges

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For Democrats, especially the White House, the release Thursday of a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services showing the number of Americans who signed up for healthcare coverage through federal- or state-run healthcare exchanges is great news, because it debunks the continuously repeated but false line by Republicans that the national healthcare law is terrible and not working.

For Republicans who have tried at every point since the Affordable Care Act became law in 2010 to repeal it or undermine it, the numbers showing 12 million more working-age adults will have health coverage in 2014 because of the health law continue to paint them as obstructionists with no alternative plan that makes sense even on a basic level. The Congressional Budget Office said the number of insured Americans is expected to grow to 19 million in 2015 and 25 million in 2016. Moreover, CBO notes that "26 million more will be insured each year from 2017 through 2024 than would have been the case" without the health care law.

In Ohio, where the big political race of the season for governor pits a first-term Republican incumbent who says the ACA [aka Obamacare] is flawed and who offered little if any help in promoting it against a Democratic hopeful who supports the law and would have marshaled state resources to push sign-ups, 154,668 more Buckeyes can breath a sign of relief now that they have insurance through O-Care exchanges.

Gov. John R. Kasich has kept quiet on the HHS report numbers for obvious reasons since he and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor have staked out a policy position opposed to the ACA. Unlike Kasich, however, Ohio's senior U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown was overjoyed with the report's finding.

"More than eight million Americans, and nearly 155,000 Ohioans, have enrolled in the health insurance marketplace in order to be healthier and better protected," said Brown, who won a second term in 2012. "Already, the health law has helped millions of Ohioans receive better care at an affordable price. I hope Americans will continue to take advantage of this opportunity to protect themselves and their families. No family should be one illness or injury away from financial ruin."

For Ohio, the numbers are loud and clear: 154,668 Ohioans selected Marketplace plans from October 1, 2013, through March 31, 2014. This includes additional Special Enrollment Period activity through April 19; and of the 154,668 Ohioans who enrolled, 54 percent are female and 46 percent are male; 33 percent are under age 35; 24 percent are between the ages of 18 and 34; 60 percent selected a Silver plan, while 25 percent selected a Bronze plan; and 85 percent selected a plan with financial assistance.

Sen. Brown reminded constituents today that even though the first enrollment deadline has passed, financial help is still available for middle and low-income individuals to enroll if they don’t have meaningful employer-sponsored health coverage. Families of four with an annual income of below $94,200 or single adults with an annual income below $45,960 are eligible. Some Americans will see premiums nearly 14 percent lower in 2014 than previously expected, he said, based on a recent report by HHS.

For an individual in Ohio, the average monthly premium for the lowest-cost silver plan is $304 and for the lowest cost bronze plan is $263. States with the lowest premiums have more than double the number of insurance companies offering plans compared to states with the highest premiums. Ohio consumers have an average of 46 health plans from which to choose in the marketplace.

While GOP officeholders basked in delight at the early and poor performance of the exchange marketplaces in early October of last year, the HHS report said half of the 8 million Americans who signed up for marketplace health insurance did so in the final seven weeks of the six-month enrollment period that ended on April 19. If fact, 17 states including Georgia, Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and South Carolina saw their marketplace enrollment more than double since March 1.

Published reports said that the 11th-hour rush for coverage produced 3.8 million new enrollees nationwide in March and April, including nearly 1.2 million young adults ages 18 to 34, who accounted for 31 percent of the final enrollment surge.

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