[r65] Rep. Koch Targets the Uninsured (1/27/2009)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Start Date: 1/27/2009 All Day
End Date: 1/27/2009
(STATEHOUSE) Jan. 27, 2009 - Uninsured Hoosiers would have three new options for healthcare coverage under legislation introduced by State Representative Eric Koch (R-Bedford).  Rep. Koch has proposed three innovative, market-based solutions to increase access to healthcare for the uninsured in Indiana:

·         The Preventive Care Pilot Program (House Bill 1463)

·         The Farm Family Insurance Act (House Bill 1464)

·         The Healthcare Sharing Ministries Act (House Bill 1465)

     "Our uninsured population is very diverse and lacks access to health insurance for a variety of reasons," said Rep. Koch.  "Each of these initiatives would provide access to   healthcare to a share of the uninsured population at no cost to taxpayers."     
     The Preventive Care Pilot Program would allow health clinics and private medical practitioners to provide primary and preventive health services for a prepaid fee.  The pilot program would enable more Hoosiers to gain access to affordable healthcare and establish a medical home for purposes of receiving primary and preventative healthcare services.  The pilot program would enable state health and insurance officials to study this method of delivering healthcare services, to encourage more Hoosiers to establish a medical home, and to determine the success, continued need, and feasibility of expanding such a program and allowing similar programs to operate on a statewide basis.  The legislation would exempt healthcare providers participating in the pilot program from regulation as an insurer and the operation of insurance laws of the state.

     Individuals most likely to participate in the pilot program are those who have low incomes and would be uninsured as a result of a qualifying event as defined in the legislation.  The Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) reports that as of December 1, 2008, there were approximately 34,000 Hoosiers who were denied HIP (Healthy Indiana Plan) benefits.  One of the main reasons for these denials was due to having had existing insurance coverage within the prior six months.  These individuals would be among those most likely to participate in the pilot program for the duration of the six-month uninsured requirement before becoming eligible for HIP.

     The Farm Family Insurance Act would allow two or more farmers to unite for the purpose of creating an insurance pool to purchase a group policy of accident and sickness insurance to cover themselves and their employees.

     The Healthcare Sharing Ministries Act specifically exempts a healthcare sharing ministry from the requirements of the insurance law and provides an exclusion from an individual's adjusted gross income for amounts: (1) that the individual receives from a health care sharing ministry, a member of a health care sharing ministry, or the employer of a member of a health care sharing ministry; and (2) that an individual's employer pays on behalf of the individual because the individual is a member of a health care sharing ministry.  It further provides an adjusted gross income tax deduction to an employer for payments that the employer makes on behalf of an employee who is a member of a health care sharing ministry.

     A health care sharing ministry (HCSM) provides a healthcare cost sharing arrangement among persons of similar and sincerely held beliefs. HCSMs are not-for-profit religious organizations acting as a clearinghouse for those who have medical expenses and those who desire to share the burden of those medical expenses.  HCSMs:

·         Receive no funding or grants from government sources.

·         Are not insurance companies. HCSMs do not assume any risk or guarantee the payment of any medical bill. Ten states have explicitly recognized this and specifically exempt HCSMs from their insurance codes.

·         Serve more than 100,000 members in all fifty states, who share more than $60 million per year of one another's healthcare costs.

·         Strive to be accessible to members regardless of their income, because shares are typically a fraction of the cost of insurance rates.

     The member ministries publish and distribute a monthly publication to members who have offered to contribute a certain amount each month. This money is shared among the members to assist those with medical bills. The publication lists the current needs of its members and indicates who the payment is to help that particular month, bringing members together to share medical bills with one another.  This personal approach of need-sharing facilitates the members' desire to bear one another's burdens in accordance with shared religious principles.  Approximately 5,100 Hoosiers are presently members of a heath sharing ministry.

     Rep. Koch serves House District 65, which includes parts of Bartholomew, Brown, Jackson, and Lawrence counties, and serves as assistant Republican caucus chairman.