CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Due to a shortened time frame, this is the last weekend to enroll for health insurance through the insurance marketplace or healthcare.gov.
U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) was in Cleveland Friday morning to speak at Circle Health Services and stress the importance of enrolling for coverage.
Money for advertising about healthcare.gov's enrollment window has been cut, and months of discussions in Congress about the future of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, have caused confusion.
Another concern advocates have is that in previous years, the window to enroll for health insurance through healthcare.gov was 12 weeks or longer, but this year, the window is six weeks long, and the website has been down for maintenance on multiple Sundays during that time frame.
"I don't understand why people want to sabotage this. I think it's mean spirited. I particularly – I can't help thinking a whole lot of politicians who have insurance paid for by taxpayers, for whatever reason, want to take it from others and I just think that's immoral," said Brown.
"It's a mean spiritedness that this government in the last year seems to be exhibiting. I stand with Governor Kasich, a republican. We want to help people get insurance," said Brown.
Cleveland 19 looked at how the changes to the enrollment process have affected the numbers thus far this year.
Looking at enrollment numbers from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Cleveland 19 compared enrollment numbers from 2015, 2016 and 2017 for the fifth week of healthcare.gov enrollment.
In 2015, just more than 62,000 Ohioans enrolled the first through fifth weeks of open enrollment, and more than 2.8 million people enrolled across the country.
During that some time period in 2016, the numbers jumped significantly. In Ohio, more than 97,000 people enrolled, and across the country, more than 4 million people chose a plan. So far in 2017, about 80,500 people have enrolled in Ohio, and just more than 3.6 million have enrolled across the country.
These numbers are the numbers of plan selections, they don't include people who have stayed on the same plan they had during the previous year and continued on that plan.
There is still one week to enroll, and there are resources available to help with the enrollment process.
Cleveland 19 spoke with one of those people who can help with the enrollment process. Rachel Rosen Degolia is an enrollment professional with Cuyahoga Health Access Partnership. She urged people without insurance to look into enrolling.
"If you don't have insurance you're being charged more than anybody else for healthcare," said Rosen Degolia.
She also said those who get employer-provided insurance, should still care about others enrolling and having access to health insurance.
"Very often not having health insurance causes people to wait until they're terribly ill to get care, then they'll show up to the emergency room, which is the most expensive way to get care and sometimes it's a whole lot worse than if they had preventative care to begin with," said Degolia.
She went on to explain, "what happens is we have this thing that happens it's called cost shifting and when people show up at the emergency room, who aren't insured, a lot of times they can't pay their bill and the hospitals going to have to eat part of it, and part of the way the hospitals compensate that is they charge people who have insurance more."
From Senator Brown's office: "Ohioans can enroll or change their healthcare plan in a variety of ways:
Online: Visit Healthcare.gov to apply and enroll online.
By Phone: Call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596 with questions, or to enroll over the phone.
In-Person: Visit LocalHelp.HealthCare.gov or call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596 to obtain a list of assisters in Northeast Ohio who are trained and certified to help individuals enroll in person."
Click here to view a map of the places you can go to get help enrolling for insurance.
For more information on where to find local help. click here.