Ohio and Controversial Obamacare
 
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Now that the elections are over, the controversies surrounding Obamacare seem to loom larger than before. Many things will change on the Ohio health insurance scene when health reform is implemented. Here are five major issues Ohioans will have to deal with.

Healthcare exchange: For one thing, the state has to make its decision about creating a health exchange by November 14, 2012. If it does not go ahead with setting up its state exchange, the federal government will step in and do so. By 2014, Ohioans who do not have employer-based insurance can buy subsidized health insurance from the exchange.

The very idea of the health exchange has come under attack. Only ‘qualified’ plans will be available in the Ohio health insurance exchange.  It is believed that this government-run scheme will take away from a market-based mechanism which will allow individuals to choose from a wide variety of private health plans. In fact, critics point out that the exchange will just turn out to be a forum for enrolment in government plans such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

According to Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor of the Ohio Department of Insurance, the yearly cost of operating a state-run exchange in Ohio would be between $30 million and $40 million, in addition to initial set-up costs.

The individual mandate: Another controversial aspect about Obamacare is the declaration that starting January 1, 2014, all individuals in the United States must have health insurance or pay a penalty. This is seen as unacceptable by many who consider it an intrusion into personal liberty.

Ohioans are also set to face new and higher taxes to pay for the government’s new entitlements and subsidies.  The Affordable Care Act (ACA) imposes a new tax on Cadillac health insurance plans, increase in employee's medical hospital insurance part of payroll tax, and a tax on investment. Higher taxes will discourage economic growth, say experts.

Lack of concept clarity: Post-election, reports indicate that many Ohioans do not support the law as it is still unclear about many important details like the definition of a ‘qualified plan’, the ‘essential benefit package’, and much more.

Impact on religious freedom: The contraception mandate which requires all employers to cover contraceptive in health plans, has also come in for criticism, as an attack on religious freedom. This is like forcing employers to pay for abortion, they say.

Rising premiums: Ohio individual health insurance premiums will go up for individuals and small business owners, points out Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor. Small employers may face rise in premiums from 5 to 150 percent for employee coverage. This, in turn, will impact their hiring decisions and affect job prospects for Ohioans in general.

The annual median premium cost is $5,052 for a single person and $13,140 for a family. As more elderly and individuals with health issues get health coverage for the first time, younger adults may find their Ohio health insurance premiums rising even further.

With all these issues and the rising cost of health insurance in Ohio, it’s important to plan ahead, save, and stay healthy. Coverage is important, so seek professional guidance from a reliable and experienced broker to choose the right health plan.

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