Wellness Tips

Jenni Marsh column: Tips for navigating your way to the right health insurance | Columns

From Nov. 1 to Jan. 15, people not eligible for Medicare, Medicaid, or employer insurance can shop for health care plans at Healthcare.gov.

As the public health emergency put in place during the pandemic is ending, Indiana is doing re-determinations. If you have recently lost your Medicaid coverage, Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP), or Hoosier Healthwise (HHW) coverage, now is the time to explore your options on the marketplace.

However, there is more to understanding the most affordable options than logging on to the website. That’s why free assistance is available through a network of licensed navigators supported by Covering Kids and Families of Indiana.

Heart of Indiana United Way has two Covering Kids and Families navigators on staff to serve families in Madison, Henry, and Fayette counties.

Ready to get insurance? Consider this:

• Marketplace plans have been made more affordable with lower deductibles and extra savings options, as well as increased tax credits that offset premium costs.

• Most people will qualify for some type of assistance — and more people than ever qualify for a free plan.

• Navigators can enroll those who are income-eligible in an appropriate public plan, such as HIP, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

• Navigators can also help ensure that plans are accepted by the medical providers that you choose.

• Best of all, coverage begins on the first day of the month following application.

Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, marketplace enrollment has been a key focus of Covering Kids and Families, along with ongoing efforts to reach out to uninsured persons who qualify for one of the public options.

Key elements of ACA-compliant plans include free wellness checks, out-of-pocket maximums, no lifetime limits, and no exclusion of pre-existing conditions.

Consumers should beware of solicitations that appear to be marketplace-compliant plans, but do not offer the essential ACA elements.

After Jan. 15, the marketplace will be an option only for those with a change in circumstance such as loss of employment-sponsored coverage.

Public option enrollment is open year-round for qualified applicants.

Heart of Indiana United Way’s Covering Kids and Families staff facilitate outreach opportunities and information sharing among the many navigators employed by hospitals and health centers in the three counties we serve.

Navigators are also partnering with the Madison County Health Department to offer information and enrollment opportunities at its mobile unit stops. You can connect with United Way’s Covering Kids and Families Coalition Director Julie Barton by calling 765-608-3062.

Anywhere in Indiana, Covering Kids and Families navigators can help with health insurance information and enrollment. Appointments, including virtual options, can be made at CKFIndiana.org or by calling 1-888-975-4CKF. Information is also available by calling 211.

Jenni Marsh is president and CEO of Heart of Indiana United Way. Her column is published the fourth Saturday of the month in The Herald Bulletin. She can be reached at [email protected] or 765-896-5902.

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