March Madness has taken on a whole new meaning for me in 2014. While many of my friends are spending their spare minutes looking up college basketball stats, analyzing their brackets, and trying to catch the final nail biting minutes of NCAA basketball games, my colleagues in the health and human services sector have been following an exciting championship of another kind. This March navigators and counselors throughout our community have been working tirelessly to enroll as many people in health insurance as possible.
It may not seem quite as exciting as the NCAA tournament, but in truth, the health of our community hinges on the efforts of this dedicated group of individuals – and the stakes are high. When our families can afford health care, they no longer have to make a choice between buying food and seeing a doctor. When our families can afford health care, they no longer have to worry that a sprained ankle from a pick-up basketball game will result in thousands of dollars in medical bills.
Here are some of the stats:
- Over 5 million Americans, and almost 97,000 Ohioans, enrolled in health insurance through the new marketplace.
- More than 193,000 Ohioans remain eligible for insurance through the marketplace. Most of them are eligible for financial assistance.
- In Ohio, the share of 18-to-34-year-olds enrolled in marketplace insurance was only 21% as of March 1.
We still have a lot of work to do to advance our team to the next round. Fortunately it’s not too late! The deadline to sign up for health insurance through the marketplace is March 31st.
Help is available in our community 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Here’s what you need to know:
- Call United Way 2-1-1 to find out how you or your loved one can enroll in health insurance. They can connect you to a local in-person assister who will help you make the best decision for your health and your budget.
- Visit the online marketplace at www.healthcare.gov to enroll on your own or for more information.
- Additional assistance and navigator services are available by calling 1-800-318-2596 or by texting the word “covered” to 97779.
Ohio may only have one team in the Sweet 16, but we do have a lot on the line this March. I’m rooting for Ohio’s uninsured, the working poor and our community health centers and their dedicated staff. If we band together, we can see our community come out on top. Maybe you’re already covered, but most likely you know one of the 193,000 Ohioans who do not have health insurance. Talk to your brother, your niece, your barber and your barista. Don’t be afraid to ask the question: Do you have health insurance? The clock is ticking. There are only 6 days left to enroll through the marketplace in 2014. Don’t take the chance. Get covered by March 31st!
We all have a role to play in this endeavor to enhance the health of our community. This March, will you be a champion for health?