Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

January 17, 2014

The hangups of healthcare

Affordable Care Act tax credits tough for many Kokomo residents to obtain

Anita Cupp waited on the phone inside the Project Access office for a half hour, trying figure out why her application for health insurance through the government's online marketplace wasn’t being processed.

This was the “fourth or fifth” time the Kokomo resident had tried to submit an application through the federal government’s Affordable Care Act website, www.HealthCare.gov. After being turned down for ACA tax credits, Cupp was told to apply for the Healthy Indiana Plan or Medicaid because her income falls below federal poverty level guidelines.

The struggle to find answers on how, exactly, to get access to affordable health care is a familiar one for many in Howard County and beyond. Cupp has been without health insurance since 2009.

“Before Thanksgiving we started this,” Cupp said as she waited on hold. “I didn’t think it was going to be this hard.”

The issue Cupp and many others throughout Indiana are facing with the rollout of the ACA has not been a lack of help, but a lack of resources. Gov. Mike Pence continues negotiating with federal officials to expand Medicaid using the state’s Healthy Indiana Plan —the state’s health care plan for low-income residents — which recently added 3,400 people from its waiting list to its rolls.

There are still about 17,000 spots open for new HIP enrollees, however, changes to the program to meet federal standards eliminated more than 10,000 who were previously covered.

The HIP has become the only option for those in Howard County with incomes below the federal poverty level, which ranges from monthly income of $957 for a single person to $1,962 for a family of four.

Those guidelines have become one of the biggest issues for those applying for coverage.

Employees at Howard County Medical Society’s Project Access, which provides volunteer, comprehensive medical care to uninsured, low-income residents, has seen the struggles of those who are trying to obtain coverage for the first time.

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