By Mary Kuhlman
The deadline is rapidly approaching to sign up for a Marketplace insurance plan.
Feb. 15 is the last day for enrollment for 2015 coverage.
Cara James, director of the Office of Minority Health at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services with the Department of Health and Human Services, says more than 174,000 Hoosiers have signed up so far at healthcare.gov, and the majority have received financial assistance.
"Many individuals, about eight out of 10 of those, will be able to find coverage for about $100 or less with the tax credit," she points out. "So, coverage continues to be more affordable for a number of individuals."
James says during the first year of open enrollment, more than 10 million people enrolled nationally and about 132,000 in Indiana.
Those who miss the deadline will not be able to sign up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act until next year, unless they qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.
Most Americans who do not have health insurance coverage in 2015 will have to pay a penalty.
Indiana consumers can choose from about 40 different health plans, from three or more issuers. And James says the Health Department has streamlined the healthcare.gov website.
"It's a lot easier to shop for plans and to compare them," she stresses. "An individual is not required to log in or start the application in order to see what sort of plans are available and to find out how much financial help may be available for them."
James says trained navigators in local communities can answer questions and help shoppers select and sign up for a plan.
"If they're feeling a little uncomfortable going to healthcare.gov, there are other options," she explains. "They can go to localhelp.healthcare.gov and find a list of trained individuals in their community who can provide in-person assistance to complete the application."