The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

November 17, 2012

Ohio won't set up state health care exchange

COLUMBUS — Ohio won't set up its own health insurance exchange but is instead opting for a partnership with the federal government to run the new online market under President Barack Obama's health care law.

Republican Gov. John Kasich wrote in a letter Friday to the Obama administration that setting up a state-based exchange is too costly and states have little control over how to operate exchanges.

"Regardless of who runs an exchange, the end product is the same," he said.

Kasich's administration has indicated for months that Ohio was leaning toward a federally facilitated exchange. State officials have noted their continued misgivings about the health care law, including what they say has been a lack of information from the federal government.

Ohio had been among the 26 states that had challenged the law, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld this summer. And the state's voters overwhelming snubbed the overhaul's mandated coverage in a largely symbolic referendum last year.

Kasich was adamant in his letter that Ohio would continue to regulate its health insurance market, oversee health plans and make decisions around Medicaid eligibility. He said the Ohio Department of Insurance would retain its oversight over the insurance industry, "as it has done very effectively for more than 60 years."

The administration said it would submit additional details on its plan to federal officials by mid-February.

Exchanges are online markets in which individual consumers and small businesses will shop for health insurance among competing private plans. They'll be open for business on Jan. 1, 2014, but open enrollment for exchange plans will begin even sooner, on Oct. 1, 2013.

The exchanges are supposed to demystify the process of buying health insurance, allowing consumers to make apples-to-apples comparisons. Consumers will also be able to find out whether they're eligible for new federal subsidies to help pay premiums or whether they qualify for expanded Medicaid.

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