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When Missing The Obamacare Deadline Doesn’t Matter

Sunday, June 1, 2014 at 6:30 AM

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The number of Ohioans signed up for Medicaid has surged by more 300,000 since expansion of the program under health reform began last fall. But statewide, there are thousands more eligible residents that have yet to sign up. Advocates fear many simply some don't know the option is available. ideastream's Sarah Jane Tribble has the story....

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In the early morning hours of a local charity walk, advocates advertise Medicaid enrollment as a woman walks to the fest Patricia Banks, a former GM worker, has been uninsured for more than three years. Patricia Banks, 60, thanks MetroHealth workers for helping her begin enrollment in Medicaid. MetroHealth's enrollment van is one of several efforts to enroll the uninsured in health insurance.

Patricia Banks has been without health insurance for three years.

She knew that without a job, she couldn’t afford to buy a plan on the federal exchanges that were being advertised last fall. So when the spring deadline for signing up on those plans passed, she wasn’t concerned.

What the 60-year-old former GM worker didn’t know was that under health reform she now qualifies for Medicaid. And there’s no deadline to sign up.

“I didn’t know, I didn’t - um - I do a lot of running, I’m not watching TV a lot ...” Banks says.

Recently, Banks was one of a handful of people who stopped into a mobile enrollment van operated by MetroHealth, Cuyahoga County’s hospital. The van joined a breast cancer awareness walk featuring free mammograms.

When summer season gets underway, Northeast Ohio’s residents can expect to see stepped up efforts to enroll those eligible in Medicaid at festivals, walks and other events, says Sarah Hackenbracht.

She’s the executive director of the Cuyahoga Health Access Partnership.

“We have a lot of on the ground work we need to do as enrollment assistors to reach out to folks and make sure they are aware,” Hackenbracht says.

Reaching out at a local event certainly worked for Patricia Banks. She filled out an application at the enrollment van. 

The Medicaid application process may take weeks, but for those who qualify the health coverage will retroact to the day the application was filed online.

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Government/Politics, Health

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