Obamacare kicks 11,000 poor residents off Indiana health plan

Obamacare will cause 11,000 low-income residents of Indiana to lose their existing health coverage.

The Obama administration demanded that an Indiana health insurance program for the poor alter its eligibility requirements and recommended that booted patients seek out Obamacare plans instead.

In September, Indiana became one of the only states to win an Obamacare waiver from the federal government to keep running a state health insurance program aimed at covering the poor. The Healthy Indiana Plan can keep operating until December 31, 2014, but only for a portion of its current customers.

Part of Gov. Mike Pence’s agreement with the Obama administration lowered the maximum income level for eligibility from 200 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) to 100 percent.

Healthy Indiana Plan participants have already begun to receive their cancellation notices. “Effective January 1, 2014, due to the availability of new federal programs to help pay for health insurance the income standard for the Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP) has been lowered to 100% of the federal poverty level (FPL),” a notice sent to one Indiana resident read.

Residents kicked out of the program “may want to consider applying for health coverage through the federal health insurance marketplace or through the private market,” the notice reads. “You may want to visit the federal website listed above [] and fill out a federal application to determine what your costs will be.”

The federal Obamacare exchange will offer subsidies to those earning between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level.

Since launching almost one month ago, has had constant technical problems. Severe malfunctions and complete outages have kept consumers from registering, looking at options and purchasing plans.

Jeffrey Zients, an economic official heading the administration efforts to fix the site, told reporters Friday that federal officials estimate that will be running “smoothly” for a majority of users by the end of the November.

If the administration pulls through and is able to fix the problems with the help of its “tech surge,” that will leave former Healthy Indiana patients just 15 days to find health coverage before their plans are cut off, effective December 31.

Indiana is the only state that received a waiver to continue its existing Medicaid-like program to provide coverage for low-income residents. The federal government denied Indiana’s first request for a waiver to keep running the Healthy Indiana Plan, but Pence persisted and won the second round.

Indiana did not accept the Medicaid expansion, which would have covered up to 400,000 enrollees. Healthy Indiana currently covers around 37,000 residents, including the 11,000 who will be dropped at the end of the year.

Pence contends that Indiana’s pilot plan works better than Medicaid at keeping costs low and helping consumers make better health care choices. He argued in September that even the uninsured in Indiana can receive care through charity programs, public and private clinics and emergency rooms.

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