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Ohio's Rate of Uninsured Drops

[graphic: Courtesy of National Health Interview Survey]

by Sarah Jane Tribble

Ohio’s uninsured rate dropped to 6.5 percent last year,  lower than the national rate of 9.1 percent, according to a federal survey released this week.

"The uninsured rate has gone down very substantially from 2014 to 2015. And it's an extraordinary story,” says Ron Pollack, founding executive director of Families USA, a national organization for health care consumers. “What's wonderful for people in Ohio is that the state of Ohio is doing a whole lot better than the rest of the country." 

The survey, conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, found that about 40 percent of those with health care coverage in Ohio reported having public health plan coverage. 

Pollack and others credit the state's Medicaid expansion, which provides health coverage for low-income and disabled residents. He also says individual plans created under the Affordable Care Act played a role in lowering uninsured rates.

However, he says, there is a growing concern for who gained Obamacare and private health care coverage in the past few years. 

“The fact that more and more people have health insurance, that's a terrific thing, but we also know that ... deductibles keep on rising,” Pollack says, adding “So people may have health insurance but they may have high deductibles.”

Last year, the advocacy group released a study concluding that families still had trouble affording care and went without some needed healthcare even after obtaining non-group coverage like those on the Obamacare marketplace.

“One of the things we've got to do is we've got to make sure that coverage actually results in people getting access to affordable care,” Pollack says.  

Aviva Aron-Dine, an economist and senior counselor with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, says people enrolled in Obamacare’s individual market plans should look closely at their coverage options. 

"People need to look beyond the headline deductible of their plan to know whether they are eligible for additional financial assistance.,” Aron-Dine says. “More than half the people in the marketplace get extra help with their cost sharing and also to look at the services covered below the deductible.” 

The majority of market place plans, she says, cover generic drug coverage and primary care visits without any cost sharing.