Responding to the continuing burden of job losses created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Biden Administration has reopened enrollment in Marketplace plans from Feb. 15 to May 15 at https://www.healthcare.gov. Here is a press release about the Open Enrollment: https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2021/02/12/2021-special-enrollment-period-marketplace-coverage-starts-healthcaregov.html  You don’t have to meet any special criteria to change plans at this time, even though it is outside of the normal Marketplace Open Enrollment season of Nov. 1-Dec. 15.

People who lost a job and went on COBRA coverage are eligible to choose a Marketplace plan instead, so you should check on HealthCare.gov to see if you can find more affordable coverage. Put “see plans and prices” in the search box to window-shop. Note that you can enter your doctors and prescriptions to see which plans include them, and you can also put in your expected level of care need (low, moderate, or high) to compare likely annual costs including monthly premiums. People making between 100-250% of the federal poverty level qualify for additional federal aid to reduce deductibles and co-payments if they choose a silver plan.

Trained, federally certified assisters are available in many local health departments and federal qualified health centers to help you look at plans and to find the coverage that works best for your health care needs and budgets. They can help you over the phone. The Resolute Navigators serving Ohio, led by Ron Irvine, can be reached at 937-222-7270.  These are caring and experienced people who’ve helped me for years in aiding people who need coverage.

There’s also a “Find Local Help” button on the home page of HealthCare.gov to link to brokers and assisters. I recommend that you look for “assisters,” as they are more experienced than most agents and brokers in helping people apply directly for Ohio Medicaid, which is free. This covers people making up to 138% of the poverty level, and provides prescription, dental, and vision coverage.

I have been a Certified Application Counselor for several years and would be glad to talk to you about the Marketplace and Medicaid. Email me at arielmillerwriter@gmail.com

Public policy and Advocacy briefings are compiled by Ariel Miller, a member of Ascension & Holy Trinity, Wyoming,  and a member of the diocesan Becoming Beloved Community Leadership Team.