April is nearly half passed and the end of the 2007 legislative session is drawing to a close. As we approach the end, there are several issues facing the General Assembly that will have a large impact on Indiana, but few as important as our state's health plan.
Recently, Senate Bill 503 also known as the "Healthy Indiana Plan," passed the House by a vote of 86-12. The bill creates a consumer powered and consumer driven health care plan. It proposes to provide health care coverage to households based on the federal poverty level, which could include parents of Medicaid/State Children Health Insurance Program children, uninsured non-disabled childless adults, pregnant women, and children to age 19. Participants in the program must be U.S. citizens, Indiana residents for at least 18 months, uninsured for six months, and ineligible for employer sponsored health insurance.
The benefits of the Healthy Indiana Plan include preventative services for up to $500 a year with 12 months of continuous coverage. Also, a $1,100 Personal Wellness Responsibility Account (POWER Account) would be established for each eligible person to use for medical costs, such as physician visits, prescriptions, and diagnostic exams. Participants within 150 percent of the federal poverty level only pay up to two percent of gross family income and participants between 150 percent and 200 percent pay up to three percent of gross family income.
The plan also includes a commercial benefits package once medical costs exceed $1,100. Services of the Healthy Indiana Plan include hospice, preventative services, family planning, and case and disease management. In addition, vision and dental plans may be purchased, but individuals will be required to pay 50 percent of the premium for these services.
There is also a buy-in option that allows an individual who is income-eligible for the Healthy Indiana Plan and on the waiting list to purchase the plan at full price. Furthermore, individuals above the 200 percent federal poverty level, who have not been offered health insurance from their employer for six months, small businesses, and local units of government may also buy into the state health plan and pay full price. This plan brings us one small step closer to finding a solution that helps uninsured Hoosiers.
Finally, the bill establishes the Healthier Indiana Insurance Program Task Force responsible for monitoring and making recommendations to the state concerning the program. The bill still needs a funding mechanism, but rest assured that the General Assembly is hard at work trying to find the best solutions for the State of Indiana.