Currently, I don’t have any health insurance. I think this is true for most of my peers, and for many low-income people, whether they’re low-income because of lifestyle and career choices, like me, or because they lack the economic mobility to obtain incomes that would allow for jobs that get a whole life policy with dividends and health coverage. None of them have incomes that would allow the purchase of individual insurance.
Currently, I have access to some medical care through the Monroe County Volunteers in Medicine clinic, which offers free medical and dental care, similar to what you would receive from an Atlanta orthodontist or a family doctor or dentist to residents of Monroe County who are below 200% of the federal poverty level (FPL). This is certainly a good resource, but I’m not sure how far the care extends for advanced procedures, or in the event of some kind of emergency or catastrophic illness or injury.
Indiana recently introduced the Healthy Indiana Plan which is state-subsidized health insurance for low-income Indiana residents. Again, to qualify for this, one must be a legal Indiana resident, between 19 and 64, and make less than 200% of the FPLwhich amounts to:
|Family Size||Maximum Annual Income*||Approximate Maximum Monthly Income|
The cost of this insurance will be between 2 and 5% of the gross family income for qualifying people, and according to the HIP website, the coverage includes:
physician services, prescriptions, diagnostic exams, home health services, outpatient hospital, inpatient hospital, hospice, preventive services, family planning, and case and disease management.Mental health coverage is also included and is similar to coverage for physical health, and includes substance abuse treatment, inpatient, outpatient, and prescription drugs.
The HIP coverage is 3-tiered and structured like this:
- A POWER Account valued at $1,100 per adult to pay for medical costs. Contributions to the account are made by the State and each participant (based on ability to pay). No participant will pay more than 5% of his/her gross family income on the plan.
- A basic commercial benefits package once annual medical costs exceed $1,100.
- Coverage for preventive services up to $500 a year at no cost to participants.
This seems very Republican (relative to some of the rhethoric I’ve heard in the news about different suggestions for health coverage policies) in it’s design because of the inclusion of the POWER Account (which I assume is what I’ve heard called a medical savings account) and because the plan seems to be administered by two private carriers: Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield and MDWise with AmeriChoice.
I believe that coverage will be limited to around 30,000 people (due to limitations on funding) and the plan will be funded by an increased tax on cigarette sales, but haven’t confirmed this in the actual release of the plan.
Of personal interest to me is the fact that it seems that much of the plan information is accessed and administered via the Internet. All plan participants must have an e-mail account (or will be given one if they do not) and both carriers list “Community Resource Centers” with internet access as part of their “Enhanced Services”. I think that more and more social services are using Internet technologies because they allow for cost savings. However, I fear that the costs of home Internet access (particularly for people with bad/no credit), unfamiliarity or discomfort with using Internet services, and the restrictions on access to public Internet resources like libraries or community resource centers (hours that the facilities are open may not match work schedules, no childcare options) may make the navigation of social services more alienating for their users.
In any case, I’m going to apply for the HIP and blog about my experiences.