INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
Indiana health care coverage applicants flooded advocates Monday with
requests for help on the final day for enrolling in plans under the federal
Lucinda Nord of the
Indiana Association of United Ways tracked enrollment throughout the day.
She said many federal coverage navigators who usually join her on a weekly
call couldn’t do so Monday because they were too busy with clients. In New
Albany, two navigators reported having 65 people show up to an enrollment
event last week.
“It just seems like
everybody is overwhelmed and has been for the last few weeks,” she said.
Indiana is among
many states that decided to use the federal exchange rather than set up a
The federal health
insurance website, which had a problem-plagued launch, also experienced some
outages and glitches on the last day.
“If you happen to
be in the middle of something or just starting it really wrecks that process
for you,” Nord said.
People who start an
application by the 11:59 p.m. EDT deadline Monday can enroll for this year
in the insurance exchanges, and won’t face fines or penalties on their 2014
flood of applicants in Indiana mirrored national trends as people sought to
at least start the process Monday. But the federal government gave broad
leeway to anyone who can show they at least started the process online, over
the phone or with a navigator by Monday.
In other cases,
residents who have “qualifying life events” -- like moving to a new state,
having a baby or being the victim of a natural disaster -- were exempted
from Monday’s deadline.
enrollment target, set by the federal government, was 100,000 residents
enrolled by the end of February. The state said 65,000 residents had secured
plans by then, the latest available enrollment data from the Centers for
Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The bigger question
for many of Indiana’s poorer residents is what will happen with the
state-run Healthy Indiana Plan. Gov. Mike Pence submitted a request to the
CMS seeking to use the state-run program in place of a traditional Medicaid
Indiana is among
many Republican-led states that did not expand Medicaid through the federal
law, but Pence has sought to use the state-run plan as an alternative. Pence
broke from the annual meeting of the National Governors Association in
Washington last month to meet with Health and Human Services Secretary
Kathleen Sebelius about the program. But the state is still waiting on an
answer to its request.
“We continue to
have regular, productive discussions with HHS on an expansion of the Healthy
Indiana Plan with an eye toward an updated waiver request by the State in
the near future,” Pence communications director Christy Denault said Monday.
state secured a one-year extension of the program in part by altering the
eligibility requirements. Residents earning just above 100 percent of the
federal poverty level were moved from the plan to the federal exchange. As
of two weeks ago, 36,500 were enrolled in the state-run plan.
Nord said Monday it
was too early to say exactly how many residents would qualify for the
“special enrollment period” that extends past Monday’s deadline. But she
pointed out that many advocates would continue holding events through April
to help residents who did not complete their applications Monday.