Nancy Vaughan column: Plenty of help for health care enrollment

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By Nancy Vaughan | For The Herald Bulletin Nov 26, 2017

There are three weeks left to enroll in a health care plan through the federal Marketplace.

While anyone can shop and enroll online at www.healthcare.gov, the process and options can be confusing. That’s why health care organizations and nonprofits have worked to provide free unbiased assistance. Locally, these individuals – state licensed navigators – work together as a coalition of Covering Kids & Families, sponsored by United Way of Madison County.

Despite a shortened window to enroll, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reported an opening day that saw double the enrollments of the past year and a second week of enrollment that surpassed the 2016 two-week number of about 1 million plan selections, with nearly 1.5 million as of Nov. 11th.

Of that number, 345,719 were new consumers on the federal Marketplace. These trends run counter to fears that funding cuts to federal navigator programs and Marketplace advertising would dramatically decrease enrollments, according to Modern Healthcare's analysis of the CMS snapshot.

Medicaid, Hoosier Healthwise, Healthy Indiana Plan and Children’s Health Insurance Program have year-round enrollment; however, starting this year and annually thereafter, the Healthy Indiana Plan — or HIP — will offer consumers the opportunity to change their health plans between Nov. 1 and Dec. 15, regardless of when they enrolled or the date of their recertification. Because health needs and providers can change, it’s a good idea to review current coverage and providers annually.

Individuals with a monthly income below $1,382 ($2,827 for a family of four) may be eligible for HIP. Individuals with higher incomes who enroll via the Marketplace may qualify for a tax credit to lower costs of monthly premiums and out-of-pocket expenses.

Anyone who is currently without health insurance would be wise to seek out the options that are available before Dec. 15. Whether enrolling online or seeking the assistance of a navigator, the following information must be provided:

• Social Security numbers for enrollees

• Employer and income information for applicants

• Policy numbers for current health insurance plans

• Completed Employer Coverage Tool for every job-based plan available to applicants

Madison County is fortunate to have a large coalition of providers who offer enrollment assistance, but the short window to enroll means that they will all be busy. To schedule an appointment, contact any of these partners:

• CKF of Madison County (United Way), 765-608-3062

• Community Hospital Anderson, 765-298-1775

• Jane Pauley Community Health Center, 765-313-9850

• Open Door Health Services, 765-286-7000

• St. Vincent Anderson Hospital, 765-646-8240

• St. Vincent Mercy Hospital, Elwood, 765-552-4630

• Madison County Community Health Center, 765-641-7499

• Family and Social Services Administration, 765-403-0864

More information is also available at www.ckfindiana.org or by calling 211. United Way of Madison County has been the local CKF sponsor organization since 2009 with significant support from both St. Vincent and Community hospitals and state health insurance providers.

CKF-IN promotes and facilitates health care coverage by building coalitions that enroll, educate, and support Hoosiers and by advocating for strong inclusive public policies.

Nancy Vaughan is president of United Way of Madison County. Her column appears the fourth Sunday of each month. She can be reached at n.vaughan@unitedwaymadisonco.org or 765-608-3061

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