Fewer Hoosiers will be without health insurance when the Healthy Indiana Plan shortens its wait list in upcoming weeks. Martin Dauenhauer hopes to be one of the lucky few who move from the list to becoming an enrolled HIP client.
After losing his welding job earlier this year, Dauenhauer applied for the state’s medical insurance plan, but discovered that he and 25,000 other Hoosiers would have to wait.
“I was hoping I could get on HIP right away, but (the enrollment specialist) told me about this wait list,” Dauenhauer said. “I’d like to go to a doctor when I have a choice … but I try to stay calm about it. There’s nothing I can do about it.”
Started on Jan. 1, 2008, HIP was intended to give families living at 200 percent of the poverty level or below a chance to have medical insurance.
The federal government, which along with the state, provides funds for HIP, imposed a 34,000-person limit for childless adults enrolled in the program.
Fourteen months later the program had reached the cap, with 25,000 now on the waiting list.
Staff at the Family and Social Services Administration couldn’t confirm a date for moving applicants from the wait list to the program, but did say it would be “before 2010.”
In an e-mail from HIP manager Darren Klinger to HIP compliance officers and contractors, he reports the slots will become available to 4,000 childless adults in November.
Adults with dependent children or caregivers continue to be placed in the program without a wait list, but childless adults have had a different experience with thousands waiting months before enrolling in the program.
“This shows that this childless population is in need,” said Lucinda Nicklay, an enrollment specialist at Open Door/BMH. “The highest percentage of applicants we see are non-caregivers so (the state) had to open up more slots to accommodate those individuals … (the state) is realizing there is a high demand.”
Many applicants like Dauenhauer have lost their insurance due to a job loss, but FSSA also reports that many employees have lost their insurance when their employers dropped their coverage.
Between 1999 and 2004, FSSA reports that Indiana was second in the nation with the highest decline of employees receiving employer-sponsored insurance.
They also note that on any day, more than 560,000 Indiana residents don’t have health insurance.
Open Door/BMH enrolls many of the local HIP applicants through their enrollment specialists. They encourage anyone who qualifies for HIP to apply regardless of the length of the wait list.
But they also believe the demand demonstrates to everyone the need for alternative health insurance programs.
“This just shows how we need health reform. Indiana has tried that already with the HIP program, a public option that’s available,” said Lori Mathis from Open Door/BMH. “It hasn’t negatively hurt the insurance system. It’s just helped to get coverage for those who absolutely need it.”