Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

November 5, 2013

Health insurance for at-risk Hoosiers extended

The Batesville Herald-Tribune

---- — Indiana Department of Insurance Commissioner Steve Robertson issued an order Nov. 1, at the urging of Gov. Mike Pence, to extend the state of Indiana’s high-risk insurance pool until Jan. 31, 2014. The Indiana Comprehensive Health Insurance Association provides coverage for about 6,800 individuals with significant medical needs.

Hoosiers have had difficulty enrolling in Affordable Care Act marketplace insurance plans due to technical problems with the federal Web site since it opened Oct. 1. This is particularly problematic for Hoosiers in the high-risk pool, who are facing dire health care issues such as cancer, hemophilia and HIV/AIDS, or are awaiting organ transplants. They must show proof of insurance to continue to get critical treatments and medication.

“The state of Indiana will ensure that these Hoosiers, who are facing significant health care challenges, maintain their health coverage until the problems with the federal marketplace are resolved,” Pence said. “While problems enrolling are an inconvenience to some, they could be a matter of life and death for these Hoosiers.”

The state will extend the high-risk insurance pool for one month for all Hoosiers currently covered at a cost of $6.3 million. Should enrollment problems continue, Indiana officials will assess the feasibility of extending coverage until Hoosiers can apply and enroll in the federal marketplace.

In a letter to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Robertson asked for assurances that the marketplace will be fully operational by Feb. 1, if not sooner.

“In many cases, these individuals are unable to schedule potentially lifesaving treatments without proof of health coverage for the coming year. The state of Indiana has stepped up to ensure coverage while your agency fixes the impediments to their enrollment in marketplace plans,” wrote Robertson.

ICHIA was created in 1982 to provide health care options for seriously ill Hoosiers who did not have access to coverage in the private market. The Indiana General Assembly passed HEA 1328 April 26 to dissolve ICHIA with the understanding that these individuals would obtain coverage in the new federal marketplace.