On the Road in Ohio

By Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services
October 16, 2013

It’s always good to go home. Today, I spent the morning in my hometown Cincinnati spreading the word about the new Health Insurance Marketplace. At an event held at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, I was joined by Mayor Mark Mallory, Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune, and Dr. O’dell Owen, the college’s president.

Whenever I’m on the road, I’m often inspired by the stories I hear about the impact that the Affordable Care Act is already having in the lives of everyday people. Cincinnati resident Keith Deaton is one of those people.

Keith is 55 and works as a realtor. He and his wife have suffered from medical conditions that require medication and regular visits to the doctor’s office. Last year, they were charged rates of $1,400 a month—a number they simply couldn’t afford.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius speaks on a panel at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, Oct. 16, 2013.With the opening of the new Marketplace, Keith and his wife finally have good options for health coverage that meet their budget and needs. When we talked, he was looking forward to shopping for his plan and the peace of mind that comes with quality, affordable coverage.

Keith’s story isn’t unique. In Cincinnati alone, there are nearly 175,000 uninsured people who are eligible for coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Statewide, that number grows to about 1.35 million. If Ohio takes advantage of new opportunities to expand Medicaid, more individuals and families could gain access to affordable coverage.

Admittedly, the launch of the Marketplace has some issues that we’re fixing. We’re adding more server capacity and making software changes to make the system more efficient and able to handle higher volumes. We have a team of experts working 24/7 to make improvements and the website is getting better every day. We won’t stop improving the site until the millions of Americans who desperately want quality, affordable health coverage are enrolled.

As long as you enroll by December 15, 2013, your coverage will begin January 1, 2014, the earliest date possible. And for coverage starting later, the open enrollment period extends through March 2014.

The Affordable Care Act is already helping millions of Ohioans like Keith. It was wonderful to come home today and hear his story knowing that a new day is on the horizon for millions of people just like him.