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5 questions to ask your health insurer during the COVID-19 pandemic

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COVID-19 is changing nearly every aspect of people’s lives. Whether it be overall health and well-being, social life, quality time spent with family or job situation, everyone, regardless of income levels, has felt the effects of this global crisis. In fact, according to a consumer survey by Access One, 75% of consumers in the highest-income bracket of $100,000-plus are concerned they will lose their jobs, and 64% of families are worried they will be unable to pay their medical expenses due to the pandemic. 

According to a recent NPR article, 33.5 million people in the U.S. have filed for unemployment benefits, and a large majority of those people receive access to health insurance through their jobs. A report from the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that 27 million people have recently lost health insurance. These statistics are concerning to our team at CareSource, a multi-state managed health plan. Our members’ health and well-being are of the utmost importance and keeping up with your family’s health during these times is especially vital.

The pandemic is putting intense pressure on state and local agencies that administer Medicaid. More people are now seeking health insurance and find themselves Medicaid eligible for the first time due to a decrease in income or job loss, per a report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. People may not realize the benefits they can now receive on Medicaid. They may also think that their network quality will change if they switch to Medicaid, and this is not the case. At CareSource, we’re taking a look at the questions Hoosiers should be asking their health insurer to keep their family safe and covered during this time. 

 1. What is Medicaid and how would someone know if they qualify? 

Medicaid currently covers 63.9 million Americans, based on data from the January 2020 Enrollment Report available on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It provides health coverage to people, including low-income adults, children, pregnant women, elderly adults and people with disabilities. The program is funded jointly by states and the federal government. To find out if you qualify, contact your state Medicaid agency, as eligibility may vary from state to state. To find out if you qualify in Indiana, you can complete an online application on www.in.gov/medicaid/ and click on “Members.” 

 2. What are the Medicaid options offered in Indiana?

Indiana offers the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP), Hoosier Care Connect (HCC), Hoosier Healthwise (HHW), traditional Medicaid and other programs. Each program serves a different population. Additionally, when you sign up for Medicaid, the quality of your networks will not change. To learn about the different coverage plans and what each cover, visit the state’s Medicaid page. You can also connect with an Indiana Navigator for assistance in choosing and applying for coverage. Navigators assist consumers in completing federal health insurance Marketplace applications or Indiana health coverage applications, like Medicaid.  

3. What services are covered under Indiana’s Medicaid plans? 

Services vary for each plan. For example, if you qualify for HIP as an adult between the ages of 19-64, your options might include HIP Plus, HIP Basic, HIP State Plan Plus and HIP State Plan Basic. All HIP plans pay for medical costs for members. Some HIP plans also have vision, dental and chiropractic coverage. 

HHW covers low-income parents or caretakers, pregnant women and children up to age 19. If you qualify for HHW, the program will cover medical care such as doctor visits, prescription medicine, mental health care, dental care, hospitalizations, surgeries and family planning at little or no cost to the member or the member’s family. The plan also has benefits for children with special health care needs such as asthma or diabetes. The benefits covered include preventive care, such as well-child visits and regular checkups, and mental health and substance abuse treatment. This type of treatment is especially relevant now during the COVID-19 pandemic, as people find it difficult to maintain mental health while social distancing and struggle with recovery.  

4. Can my health insurance company help me in other ways than providing coverage? 

Some health insurance providers do offer other services to serve their members. For example, at CareSource we have the Life Services program. CareSource Life Services provides tools to help people remove any barriers they may be facing. The benefit is available to CareSource members age 16 and older and to the parents or guardians of minor children who are members. 

Life Services can help people find a job through the JobConnect program. Even now, JobConnect life coaches are providing people with employment opportunities, despite the difficulties presented by COVID-19. We are currently connecting people with jobs in the hospitality field, medical device assembly and warehouse, the health care realm and in manufacturing. JobConnect focuses on finding people a fulfilling career, so they’re set for the long term, instead of a temporary job. Ultimately, the mission is to impact members’ lives and well-being and to take care of their needs so they can better care for themselves and their families. 

5. What are my next steps to apply for Medicaid?

First, find out if you qualify for health coverage by completing an online application on the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration Benefits Portal. If you qualify, you can apply through the Health Insurance Marketplace by creating an account. You can also apply directly to your state Medicaid agency. Additionally, you can contact an Indiana Navigator such as Covering Kids and Families. 

We have seen that the increase in Medicaid enrollment is lagging compared to the high unemployment rate. People may not realize that Medicaid can now be a smart option to keep your family safe and healthy. Explore the benefits associated with Medicaid and find the plan that works best for your needs. Visit caresource.com for more information, or call 317-982-6400 to speak with a member services representative about what you may qualify for in Indiana. 

Steve Smitherman is CareSource Indiana president.

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