CONTRIBUTED

ACA insurance signups now available

Enrollment started this week for people who want to buy individual insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces.

The price of these insurance plans available beginning Thursday, Nov. 1 will once again rise, though it won’t be as big of a jump as last year. There will be also be more options this year, including Anthem returning to the marketplace after leaving in 2018.

Catching up? Read our latest Affordable Care Act coverage

• Anthem returning to ACA exchange

• Higher costs but more options ahead for Ohio ACA insurance

• Final tally shows Ohio ACA enrollment slightly down

Open enrollment runs through Dec. 15. There were 230,127 Ohioans who bought health insurance plans during last year’s open enrollment for the marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare.

For 2019 the weighted average premium is $6,161.56, an increase of 6.3 percent, according to the Ohio Department of Insurance. For some people, subsidies offset those cost increases.

While the increase still outpaces employer-sponsored insurance, the rates are rising at a slower pace than last year when premiums rose an average of 34 percent.

One notable difference since last year is that there is no individual mandate to buy insurance, so those who don’t purchase a plan won’t have to pay a penalty like in years past.

MORE: What to know about Medicaid open enrollment as it begins today

Dayton-based CareSource, one of the city’s largest employers, will be selling plans in four states: Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia. For 2017, CareSource reported to Ohio Department of Insurance that it took a $19 million net underwriting loss on its marketplace plans.

The insurer expanded to vulnerable counties in 2018 that otherwise wouldn’t have an option for marketplace insurance and had about 90,000 marketplace enrollees during last open enrollment season — a 40 percent increase from the previous cycle.

CareSource said in a statement that consumers should shop around early for their best option and be aware that competing short-term health plans do not comply with the Affordable Care Act’s protections for pre-existing conditions, with many not covering prescription drugs or maternity care.

The insurer stated CareSource plans are in compliance with the Affordable Care Act and offer all of the essential health benefits including prescription drug coverage, maternity care, mental health and substance use disorder services.

“The Marketplace is still the best option for finding a plan to fit a range of health care needs and finances. As a result of premium subsidies, consumers may be eligible for plans with a premium as low as zero. We see the Marketplace stabilizing and we look forward to a robust enrollment period,” said Robert Brett, CareSource marketplace vice president.

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