Hoosiers attempt to navigate murky Healthcare.gov waters

INDIANAPOLIS - For one month, the federal online health insurance marketplace has been open for enrollment. But it's unclear how many Hoosiers have successfully signed up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act. That's because questions and confusion continue.

Steve Ashba is one of more than 900,000 people in Indiana who are living without health insurance. The Kokomo resident suffers from high blood pressure, which many insurance carriers consider a pre-existing condition.

"No insurance carrier would take me," Ashba said.

But under the new health care law, insurance carriers can no longer deny him coverage.

"I was excited about it, because I think every human being is entitled to health care," Ashba said. "That's my philosophy."

Starting next year, the Affordable Care Act requires everyone to get health insurance.

People who don't will face a penalty.

"The only things they can consider when setting your initial rate is your age, your location and whether you're a smoker," said Aaron Pitt, an Indianapolis lawyer who's certified to help Hoosiers navigate enrollment.

Pitt is talking the uninsured through the process of picking from the 34 plans offered in Indiana.

"I can't give any recommendations on what plans people can have, but I can give them as much information as possible," Pitt said.

The coverage is divided into five categories ranging from catastrophic to platinum.

All of the plans include the same services, such as hospitalization, maternity care and prescription drugs. The difference comes in the price of monthly premiums versus out-of-pocket costs.

A bronze plan offers lower premiums. But, Hoosiers will pay a higher portion of the costs when they receive care. Doctors who are considered "in network" also vary between plans.

The cheapest plan RTV6 found for one person under age 49 living in Marion County costs a little under $190 a month. The most expensive of the options listed runs about $400.

Tax credits are available to help offset the cost.

In Indiana, uninsured Hoosiers use the online health insurance marketplace to sign up for coverage. It's the same website people across the country are logging onto: www.healthcare.gov.

Ashba is hopeful he can find health insurance he can afford so that an unexpected illness won't break the bank.

"I just hope and pray I can stay healthy till January 1," Ashba said.

Ashba hasn't made it far enough on the website to compare plans for himself. He says he's spent 60 hours trying to apply for coverage on the health insurance marketplace.

He isn't alone. RTV6's Katie Heinz will take a closer look at the confusion and the glitches with the website next week.

In order for coverage to start Jan. 1, Hoosiers must choose a plan by Dec. 15. Enrollment closes March 31.


Follow RTV6 reporter Katie Heinz on Twitter: @katieheinz6

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