New insurance deadline set with more help available
Anyone who starts the application process of enrolling in the government's health insurance plan by the end of March, but doesn't complete it, will get extra time to finish.
The government is expecting a surge in applications in the next few days, ahead of the March 31 deadline. The extra time is a huge relief for families and individuals needing help with their health care as well as those organizations trying to help them figure it all out.
Justin Jenkins looked at a computer screen and couldn't hide his frustration.
"I would like to get some health care today," he said.
So would everyone else working and waiting in the crowed lobby of Eskenazi Health.
Gordon Jayne, one of the hospital employees responsible for keeping the process moving, looked at the scores of people.
"This is part of the last minute rush," he admitted.
The hospital on the edge of the IUPUI campus and its clinics across the city are already helping about 1,800 people a week navigate the complex process of applying for government-subsidized health insurance.
Sandy Hussion, retired with a modest income, scrolled through the insurance plans appearing on the computer screen.
"There is the monthly payment?" she asked a hospital employee there to help. "I can tell you I won't be able to afford it."
A table away sat the much younger Jenkins. He's just starting out and working part time without insurance.
"Yeah, everybody is made of flesh and blood," he said with a wry smile. "Nobody is Superman."
Eskenazi says most of the applicants are women with children. Many need more than one visit to decide on an insurance plan. At a special event two weeks ago, 900 people logged on the computers and waded into the application process. Only 700 qualified for coverage and by the end of the day only, 155 signed up for insurance.
"It's new to them. They really want to understand all the complexities of the payments and co-insurance premiums," Jayne said.
The new enrollment deadline gives applicants an additional two weeks to make up their minds.
"No, no, no," Hussion said shaking her head as she looked over the choices.
It took about an hour to learn she earns too much to qualify for a subsidy and too little to pay a full premium.
"This is what we are supposed to do and we need to do it," Hussion said. "It is not feasible for me."
She's disappointed and working on an alternative health option.
Jenkins waited about five hours to get on a computer that locked up. He threw his head back and begged, "Please work!", for him and everyone else desperate to avoid a personal health care crisis.
If you or someone you know needs help with the health insurance application process, Eskenazi Health has another enrollment opportunity scheduled for Saturday.