Two local agencies are teaming up to help people apply for Medicaid or new insurance plans available through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace.
Summit County Public Health and AxessPointe Community Health Center are hosting free enrollment events from noon to 7 p.m. today and Feb. 18 at the Job Center, 1040 E. Tallmadge Ave., Akron.
The agencies will have certified application counselors available to answer questions and help residents fill out online applications.
Today’s event is the latest planned by the health department and AxessPointe Community Health Center, a federally supported, sliding-scale practice, to provide information and enrollment assistance for the new insurance plans, as well as the Medicaid program.
Open enrollment began Oct. 1 and continues through March 31 for the new Health Insurance Marketplace plans. Consumers who apply for a plan before Feb. 15 will have coverage effective March 1.
Under the Affordable Care Act, most Americans are required to get health insurance or face a potential financial penalty when they file their 2014 taxes next year.
The marketplace, also known as an exchange, is a computerized system at www.healthcare.gov that allows consumers to compare plans and determine whether they qualify for financial help from the federal government paying for coverage.
“We’ve seen it slow down,” said Elizabeth James, a certified application counselor from the Summit County health department. “I’m assuming that it will pick back up again once the March 31 deadline approaches. There was a big push in December.”
Medicaid eligibility for adults in Ohio also was boosted, starting Jan. 1, to 138 percent of the federal poverty standard, or $15,856 for an individual.
Previously, Ohio adults without children were ineligible for Medicaid, except for low-income disabled residents. And in some families, children qualify for coverage but their parents don’t.
Residents can use a state-run website — http://benefits. ohio.gov — to apply for Medicaid coverage through the expansion program.
Though it’s supposed to be possible to apply for Medicaid through the federally run website, no applications had been transferred from the federal government to the state as of Monday afternoon, according to an Ohio Department of Medicaid spokesperson.
From Dec. 9 through Jan. 22, the state approved 20,338 Medicaid applications through the expansion program, according to the Ohio Department of Medicaid. Of the 54,420 total applications received by that date, 3,900 were denied; the remainders were still being reviewed.
The state expects to release updated Medicaid expansion application and enrollment figures by mid-month.
For more information about the local enrollment events or to schedule separate appointments for help, contact Summit County Public Health at 330-926-5660 or AxessPointe at 888-975-9188.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/CherylPowellABJ.