COLUMBUS – The third open-enrollment period for the federal insurance marketplace is in full swing, and new options could impact health-care choices for Ohioans.

While it’s an important time for those without health insurance, open enrollment also is an opportunity for those already covered through the marketplace to ensure that their plan fits their needs. Kamari Odai of Columbus said he reviews his choices each year.

“Because there’s so many different plans that are available, it’s almost impossible not to find something that suits your pocketbook,” he said. “I would just encourage people to really do some serious research to look through all the different policies that they have available.”

There are 16 plans to choose from in Ohio, and new prices that could impact options for plans, doctors and costs – as well as the amount of financial assistance available for those who qualify. Last year, 80 percent of the 200,000 Ohioans who selected a marketplace plan received financial assistance. Open enrollment runs through Jan. 31.

Prior to enrollment, Odai experienced health problems that resulted in hefty medical bills, and he’s grateful to have coverage.

“Since then, my health has improved dramatically because I’ve been able to keep my routine appointments, twice a year and everything,” he said. “It’s been quite exhilarating and quite refreshing.”

Under the Affordable Care Act, those who do not have health insurance could face a fine of $695 or 2.5 percent of their income.

Nita Carter, health equity director for the Universal Health Care Action Network of Ohio, said choosing health insurance can be complicated, so help is available.

“We always advocate that people want to sit down with an enrollment assister,” she said, “At UHCAN Ohio, we have what are called certified application counselors, and their services are free of charge. The Ohio Association of Foodbanks has navigators, and in the end there are brokers and agents.”

Carter said open enrollment only is for marketplace insurance. Some Ohioans qualify for Medicaid, which accepts applications year-round. Information on plans and where to find assistance is available online at

There are 16 plans available for Ohioans through the federal insurance marketplace. are 16 plans available for Ohioans through the federal insurance marketplace.

By Mary Kuhlman

Ohio News Connection