Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

State News

June 9, 2014

Clinic sees drop in demand

(Continued)

Richman said that since last fall, VIM clients have been extremely stressed out by the new health care law, saying they have no idea how it will affect them.

“The vast majority of our patients have never before had health insurance, and don’t understand what is meant by terms like premium, copay and deductible,” she said. “To help patients navigate this hugely unfamiliar territory, we’ve taken on the role of helping our patients understand the ACA and assisting them with enrollment.”

Richman said during the open enrollment period, VIM asked Individual Solutions’ navigators to come to the clinic to join the clinic’s eligibility representatives in enrolling patients in the Healthy Indiana Plan, and to set up appointments for others to come to the Individual Solutions office at 413 S. Landmark Ave. to apply for marketplace plans.

“Our eligibility policy has not changed,” she said. “It still states that any patient who is eligible for an insurance plan — including HIP, marketplace plans, Medicaid, Hoosier Healthwise and Medicare — must apply for that coverage. There is no option to ‘opt out’ and continue to be a VIM patient.”

Richman said people who come to VIM for the first time meet with an eligibility representative. If their income is less than 100 percent of the federal poverty level, the representative helps them enroll in HIP, which is still accepting people into the program even though the ACA enrollment period has closed.

“During the 45 to 60 days it takes for the HIP approval process to be completed, VIM addresses the patients’ urgent medical needs and provides free care during the transition,” Richman said. “IU Health Bloomington supports this process by providing charity care for people not yet insured.”

The next marketplace open enrollment period will be Nov. 15, 2014, through Feb. 15, 2015. The insurance plans of those who sign up during that time will go into effect no earlier than Jan. 1, 2015. “For the remainder of this year, any uninsured person with an income over 100 percent of the federal poverty level continues to have no other option for health care except to come to VIM,” Richman said. “These patients will be required to enroll in the marketplace during the next open enrollment period, but we continue to see them this entire year. When their new insurance begins on Jan. 1, 2015, these patients will be transferred to their new provider.”

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