Facing Deadline, Higher Penalties, Ohioans Sign Up For Obamacare

Healthcare.gov homepage [Screenshot]

by Sarah Jane Tribble

The final day to enroll for individual health insurance under Obamacare isn't until January 31. But, for those to who need insurance starting the first of the year, that deadline just passed. Still, officials are confident people will continue to sign up. 

The latest tally shows that more than 97,000 Ohioans had enrolled for individual health insurance on the federal marketplace as of Dec. 12.

That number may seem small compared to the total of more than 230,000 who enrolled last year, but Ohio's Enroll America Director Trey Daly says he's not worried. 

"In the next report that we see, the next two reports that we see, there will be a huge jump for two reasons. One is people respond to deadline," Daly says.  

The other reason is those who were covered last year and chose not to shop for new coverage were automatically renewed - and  their selections won't show up until later. Daly estimates about 150,000 people will automatically renew. 

And while many of the plans seem to cost more this year, Daly says the higher penalties for not signing up are also pushing people to enroll. 

"We're also hearing about folks who are actually going to end up paying less in premiums than they would have paid in the tax penalty, Daly says. "So just in an obvious dollars and cents perspective without considering the risk of expenses of not having health coverage it's costing less to have the coverage than not have the coverage."

In 2016, an individual who doesn't buy insurance will owe at least $695 when filing taxes for that year. The fines increase based on income, and can go up to $2,085 for an individual.


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