Lakeshore News Tonight

Affordable Care Act Town Hall Meeting Spotlights Minority Coverage

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October 3, 2013 — Millions of people across the country are looking forward to tapping into the nation’s new healthcare exchanges, but many are still in the dark on how to obtain coverage.   That’s why health care leaders and elected officials gave residents an earful about the vital aspects of the Affordable Care Act.

“Many of the bankruptcies in Lake County are primarily related to medical bankruptcies.  I am looking at this as a way for families to be able to economically lift themselves up,” said Dr. Janet Seabrook, Community HealthNet Executive Director.

Indiana and Lake County Minority Health Coalitions sponsored a Town Hall Meeting at Ivy Tech Community College in Gary last night.  Lake County Minority Health Coalition Executive Director Tracy Robinson said the organization held the meeting as a part of it’s focus to cut down on the disproportionate number of people of color who are uninsured.

“If you look at the percentages for what you have to have to even qualify, you’re either economically poor or you’re at the other end of the pendulum where you’re struggling.  We call that the working poor,” said Denise Dillard, Vice President of Government and External Affairs for Methodist Hospitals regarding who the Affordable Care Act benefits.

After elected officials and health care experts weighed in on the three-year-old health care law, residents shared their concerns.  Indiana State Representative Ed Clere, from New Albany, explained how the State of Indiana chose not to expand Medicaid, but will expand the Healthy Indiana Plan known as HIP.

“There is a waiting list of about 55 thousand people right now for HIP.  There are only about 38 thousand people currently in HIP.  We know that 10 or 11 thousand of those people will roll into the marketplace or exchange because the income threshold for HIP is being lowered from 200 percent of federal poverty to 100 percent of federal poverty effective January 1,” said Rep. Clere.

The federal government marketplace opened a little more than 24 hours ago.  Dr. Seabrook said there will be a variety of insurance options available that are now affordable.

“We’re talking Cigna, Blue Cross, Anthem, Aetna, all of the major insurers across the United States.  All of the plans have to participate in the Affordable Care Act,” said Dr. Seabrook.

Residents also had questions about prescription drug coverage and co-pay increases for those who already have insurance.  Panelists said co-pay amounts may increase for some, but not for others.  Panelists also pointed out the benefits of wellness and prevention options that will be available along with mental health coverage.  They also told residents that new consumer protections, such as pre-existing conditions and students staying on their parents’ plans until the age of 26, have been built into the law.

By: Renetta DuBose

 

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