Health insurance made affordable for Hoosiers

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Today, more than half a million Hoosiers are without the peace of mind of health insurance. They are unprotected against the risk of a big medical bill.

"And that is not right," states Governor Mitch Daniels in a message on health insurance coverage.

It is not a question of if health insurance will be needed, but when and how much it will cost. For far too many working Hoosiers, health insurance is simply unaffordable. As health care costs rise, more employers are not offering health care coverage and private insurance is often too expensive.

Lack of health insurance causes many Hoosiers to put off important doctor visits until it is too late. Gov. Daniels along with Indiana legislature has created HIP -- Healthy Indiana Plan.

HIP is new, affordable health insurance program for uninsured adult Hoosiers. The program is sponsored by the state and only requires minimal monthly contributions from the participant.

It is for adults between the ages of 19 to 64. Parents or caretaker relatives of children in the Hoosier Healthwise program are also likely candidates for the HIP program.

To be eligible, individuals must earn less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level. There must not be access to employer sponsored health insurance coverage. Individuals must be uninsured for at least six months.

"People are still encouraged to sign up before being without coverage for six months," says Jennifer Bedwell, clinic/marketing director for Putnam County Hospital.

HIP does not provide dental or vision coverage.

Participants will be required to pay between 2 and 5 percent of their gross family income to have the security of health insurance. The exact cost will depend on income and family size.

Putnam County residents will be given an opportunity to sign up for the HIP program May 1 in the Teacher's Credit Union parking lot. The Division of Family Resources will park its mobile application station from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Clients will have the chance to ask questions about or apply for DFR programs including HIP, TANF, food stamps, Medicaid and Hoosier Healthwise.

Interested individuals are asked to bring a copy of any papers filed for benefits. This event is in partnership with PCH.

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  • So if you work somewhere that offers insurance that you can't get it through the state.

    How many people can afford the health insurance that their employer offers? Though there is some movement to take care of that problem:

    In January, Indiana took what many believe to be an extraordinary step. It began offering health insurance to the working poor.

    That's a good start. But Indiana can do better. Family and Social Services Administration Secretary Mitch Roob thinks so.

    In particular, Roob encourages a legislative discussion concerning the definition of employer-offered health care. Some employers offer health-care benefits, but premiums are unaffordable for their employees.

    "We need to decide what are we going to define as 'employer-sponsored health care'. Is it any time the employer offers health coverage, regardless of perceived affordability? Because that's the way it was written into the [law]," he said. "It's a debate that needs to happen."

    -- Posted by reeltime on Sat, Apr 25, 2009, at 6:52 AM
  • in response to "reeltime", i have a family of four

    and carry insurance for the entire family through my employer. it is very expensive but you have to have it. It's like food, a necessity. instead of living off the state and county tax payors it would be nice if more people were responsible for their own families like it use to be. i am like everyone else, if i could cut out the expense of insurance i would have extra money to pay toward bills i am behind in, but i also have pride that i am raising my family without state assistance.

    -- Posted by indianaresident on Sat, Apr 25, 2009, at 11:04 AM
  • I agree with you, indianaresident. I'm 54 years old, single, and have been without health insurance for over 5 years. My employer offers insurance but the premiums would be about $3500 per year with $1000 deductible. I gross about about $16K per year so the cost is unaffordable.

    I checked into HIPA about a year ago but I was not eligible for the reasons you mentioned, my employer offers insurance.

    I've never been a proponent of socialized medicine but it's looking more attractive.

    I applaud Indiana for at least making an attempt to insure residents.

    -- Posted by formergrc on Mon, Apr 27, 2009, at 9:19 AM
  • I've always thought that the health care system would price itself out of the game at some point and then we would see an adjustment like we have with housing and Wall Street. And it seems that the insurance companies are helping things along...

    Workers' health insurance premiums have shot up more than five times faster than their wages since 2000, adding to an increasingly tight squeeze on family budgets, according to a report released Thursday by a health care consumer group.

    The report shows that the average cost of family coverage in the workplace went from $6,672 in 2000 to $12,078 in 2007. That's more than a 78% rise. But at the same time, average wages rose about 15%, according to Families USA, a left-leaning advocacy group....

    ....Other studies show that the growth in private insurance premiums has slowed in recent years. Premiums rose just 5% in 2007, much more slowly than the nearly 14% rise as recently as 2003, according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

    But Pollack says his group's study shows that workers are facing a "triple whammy." Overall premiums are rising, while workers' shares of those premiums are going up, too. At the same time, the added pressure on employers is forcing them to hold back on wages, he says.

    Nearly half of the respondents in a poll released by the Kaiser Foundation earlier this week said they'd skipped some needed medical care because of cost. More than a third said they'd postponed needed treatment, and about a quarter said they'd divided pills, skipped doses, or skipped filling a prescription because of the price.

    -- Posted by reeltime on Tue, Apr 28, 2009, at 4:25 AM
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