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Ohio Insurance Officials Say No Changes Expected in ACA Markeplace Despite Fed Cuts to Subsidies

No Changes for Ohio residents who buy plans in the affordable care act marketp
No Changes for Ohio residents who buy plans in the affordable care act marketp

Ohio is in a better position to handle President Trump’s decision to end federal cost-sharing reduction payments to insurance companies than some other states, according to officials at the Ohio Department of Insurance.

In the short term, the move should not have a significant impact on Ohio residents who buy plans in the affordable care act marketplace, said Ohio Department of insurance spokesman Chris Brock.

Most people in Ohio get their insurance from their employer, Medicaid or Medicare. Those who purchase health insurance in the marketplace, nearly 230,000 Ohioans, will see little change in their subsidy payments when enrollment period opens Nov. 1.

The federal payments to insurance companies called cost-sharing reductions, or CSR, cut deductibles and co-pays for low income people.

Insurance companies were required last Spring to prepare for the worst case scenario in case the federal government decided to cut off the CSR payments, Brock said.

“In Ohio, what we required the companies that wanted to sell on the exchange to do was to assume they would not receive these reimbursements and go ahead and plan for that so the rates and the premium information that was approved by the department this summer is not going to change for 2018,” he said.

These CSR payments being withheld are not the ones that lower the price of insurance premiums for some 80 percent of people who shop in the marketplace. They help keep down out-of-pocket costs for things like doctor visits and prescription co-pays.

The insurance companies in Ohio will continue to cover these subsidies but the federal government will not reimburse them, Brock said.

This could, however, create problems down the road.

“When the companies are planning for 2019 and where they are going to offer and what their products look like and how they are going to price them this type of uncertainty in the marketplace may change what they plan to do,” he said.

Marlene Harris-Taylor
Marlene is the director of engaged journalism at Ideastream Public Media.