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The annual open enrollment period for the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace is November 1 – December 15. All individuals not covered by employer-sponsored health insurance have an opportunity to shop for options directly at but through the cooperative efforts of the local Covering Kids & Families Coalition (CKF), free and unbiased assistance is readily available by calling 765-608-3062.

Navigators can assist individuals in determining the type of plan and savings for which they qualify, and help compare elements of plans, including co-pays, out of pocket amounts and provider networks. They can also help enroll eligible persons in public plans such as Hoosier Healthwise – Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance (CHIP) - and the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP). Individuals may enroll in public health plans at any time of year, but the open enrollment period is the only time that current members of HIP may change their insurance carrier.

Approximately 18 percent of Madison County residents are uninsured, with the highest rates of uninsured in the 19-34 age group. With savings and/or tax credits offered to individuals in households up to 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) - more than $48,000 for an individual and $98,000 for a family of four – most Madison County residents will pay less than posted premiums. For households up to 250 percent of the FPL, there are additional savings for co-pays and out-of-pocket maximums. Tax credits can be applied directly to the premiums, lowering the up-front cost. Individuals with current Marketplace plans are encouraged to review their options at this time as well, to determine whether it is beneficial to change to a different plan before auto-renewal.

Many households with incomes below 250 percent of the FPL may also qualify for one of the public options and navigators can assist in the application process for these plans. Options vary depending on age, income and other factors. There are also options for increased coverage for a small premium, and choice of insurance carrier.

Indiana's child uninsured rate increased to 6.6% from 5.9% between 2016 and 2018. The state is part of the national trend which saw the child uninsured rate increase during a period of strong economic growth when children should have been gaining health coverage. Confusion about qualifications, the delay in reauthorization of CHIP funding at the Federal level last year, and ongoing discussions over health care policies frequently lead people to assume they are not eligible for programs.

CKF of Indiana and local coalitions work to provide accurate information and assistance to the uninsured population. The Madison County CKF Coalition is sponsored by United Way of Madison County (UWMC) and includes representation from Community Hospital Anderson, St. Vincent (RUAH) in Anderson and Elwood, and health centers Aspire, Jane Pauley, Meridian and Open Door. Julie Barton, CKF Outreach Specialist and Thrive Income Support Coach for UWMC, assists clients at the Anderson office as well as in Elwood and Alexandria at Thrive office locations. She can be reached at 765-608-3062.