A Look at ‘Obamacare’ One Year Later

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It’s been one year since the launch of the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 154,668 Ohioans selected a plan during the first enrollment period.

Cathy Levine, Executive Director for Ohio’s Universal Health Care Action Network (UHCAN), said Obamacare has greatly improved the delivery of health care in the state.

“Implementation of the Affordable Care Act (although its had its bumps) it is a dream come true,” Levine said. “We’re seeing hundreds of thousands of Ohioans now enjoying the peace of mind, the financial and health security of having coverage.”

Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor serves as the director of the Ohio Department of Insurance. She said the Affordable Care Act has impacted the state in many ways, but maybe not positively.

“The cost has been impacted,” she said. “Premiums have gone up significantly in Ohio. And then you look at the plans that are being sold on the exchange, even though compared to other states we have a somewhat competitive market, it’s not as competitive as it was prior to the Affordable Care Act.”

Levine said while she is happy with the health care system, there is room for improvement.

“We still need to figure out how to get the word out to so many people,” she said. “Particularly in communities of color, in racially and ethnically diverse communities, in LGBT communities, other specialized communities where people really rely on trusted messengers from their own communities to explain what’s available.”

On the local level, Obamacare has had an impact.

Chris Dailey, Worker-Owner of Casa Nueva restaurant, said that their local restaurant has not experienced any increased premiums to their current health insurance policy. The restaurant offers health insurance to its full-time employees and is committed to helping their part-time employees find affordable insurance as well.

"We haven't made any changes ourselves,” he said. “We have been offering though to some of our less tendered employees who would have to pay more. We've given them the links and the required steps they would need to take to get health insurance through the Affordable Care Act."

Through the Affordable Care Act, businesses with fewer than 50 full-time employees are eligible for the Small Business Health Options Program. This allows businesses to control what coverage they offer and how much they pay toward premium costs. Businesses with fewer than 25 full-time employees may qualify for a tax credit and do not need to offer their part-time employees coverage.

Working directly with many of these local businesses are the local farmers. Many of these farms are family-owned and operated, which leave health insurance coverage up to them.

"Well since we're self-employed and we purchase our own insurance, I have found that it hasn't affected us at all," Larry Cowdery, Owner of Cowdery Farms, said.

Steve Lucas, a resident of Athens, already receives health insurance through his employer. He thinks that having some insurance is better than having none at all, especially in places like Athens.

"It's very important for people, especially young people who have incurred college debt and also given the fact that 30 percent of the people in Athens County live at or below the poverty level,” he said. “So I think it's important from a long term medical standpoint to have some sort of insurance."

The next open enrollment period for Obamacare will begin November 15.