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Federal Government Pushes ACA Deadline To Thursday


Federal healthcare officials have given procrastinating consumers a reprieve.

Marketplace CEO Kevin Counihan announced Tuesday:

“Because of the unprecedented demand and volume of consumers contacting our call center or visiting HealthCare.gov, we are extending the deadline to sign-up for January 1 coverage until 11:59pm PST December 17."

The Ohio Association of Food Banks provides assistance to people who need help navigating available insurance plans. The Association's Lisa Hamler-Fugitt says the stakes are higher this year for people who fail to sign up.

"The penalty per individual is capped up to $695. It can also go up and is going to be calculated at 2.5 percent of your overall income based on a bronze plan," Hamler-Fugitt said.

Hamler-Fugitt says people without insurance or those who want to change plans need to sign up at healthcare.gov by midnight Thursday.

The below text is an automatic transcript of the above conversation. Please excuse any and all errors.

Marilyn Smith: For people who don't know what navigation services might entail, explain the help that is available.

Lisa Hamler-Fuggitt: Navigators are trained professionals that are also licensed by the Ohio Department of Insurance, to provide on biased information about the plans available in the community and help Ohioans sign up for coverage that is appropriate to their needs.

MS: People were subjected to a fine previously if they didn't sign up, but it really goes up considerably next year as I understand it.

LHF: That's right it does a penalty per individual is capped up to $695, if you are a single individual and continue to go without health care coverage. It can also go up and is going to be calculated at 2.5 percent of the your overall income based on the bronze plan so. The benefits could even be higher for higher income families and what we want to say is this is an opportunity to get health care coverage again. Many for the first time in their lives. They may work for employers who either can't or won't provide health insurance and we want to get people connected. So they can prepare. Again we never want to prepare for a worst case scenario but it is appropriate and. It's the right thing to do to ensure that you have health care coverage for yourself and your family.

MS: What about the cost of insurance. Has that gone up under so-called Obamacare? 

LHF: Healthcare coverage, overall is growing at a cost. That is almost an affordable for all of us whether we have to go out in the private marketplace and shop for insurance or even that. That's provided through our employers if we're fortunate enough to have employer provided health care coverage it's growing at a rate. Much more quickly than the overall cost of of living. Certainly increasing more than the actual cost of increases in wages. What we do know about Ohio. Is that we were one of four states that had premiums that went down for the average benchmark plan through the Affordable Care Act And I think that speaks to the fact that Ohio is a very competitive market with over seventeen issue or so there is competition in the market. But again health care cost. Overall are growing at an unsustainable rate.

MS: Well theoretically the more people who are in the pool. The cheaper insurance will be. Will we see that in the near future.

LHF: We certainly hope so and that's why it's so important for individuals who don't have access to employer provided plans to enroll now. In benefits through the Affordable Care Act. We have to have that diversity of the pool. And we've really been striving to get a younger age. Individuals signed up in the plan.

MS: Lisa Hamler-Fugitt thank you so much for your time.

LHF: Thank you.