Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

State News

September 30, 2013

Indiana prepares to roll out online health exchange program

(Continued)

Republican Gov. Mike Pence has been no fan of the federal health care law — even apologizing last year after equating the Supreme Court ruling upholding it with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. However, his new administration has still been working to provide some key backup ahead of the opening of the exchange.

The state has hired, temporarily, 150 new caseworkers to handle an expected spike in residents seeking Medicaid coverage via the “woodwork effect” — an increase of enrollees. The state also has run tests on its phone system to ensure it will be able to handle call volumes.

State and federal officials already have pointed out a few obstacles they expect to work through after the exchange is up and running. State officials noted last week that integrating the state’s Medicaid enrollment system with the federal exchange online could take another month. National advocates for Hispanic immigrants also pointed out last week that the federal government is behind in rolling out Spanish-language services for non-native speakers.

Anyone earning less than the federal poverty level — $11,500 for a single adult and $23,500 for a family of four — is exempt from having to buy insurance.

Anyone earning up to four times the federal poverty level — $46,000 for a single adult and $94,200 for a family of four — will qualify for federal tax subsidies but have to buy insurance through the exchange to get the federal benefit.

The federal website takes residents page by page through a series of questions about age, employment, earnings and that will be used to determine what plans they will qualify for and how much they will pay each month.

Lucinda Nord, vice president of public policy for the United Way of Indiana, said the application will look almost exactly like it does online now.

“What will be different on Oct. 1 is they can begin hitting ‘submit’ on their application,” she said.

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