Feds approve state program to transition Hoosiers to private insurance

The federal government has given its stamp of approval for Indiana’s innovative Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP) Workforce Bridge program, a first-in-the-nation program designed to help Hoosiers transition from HIP to private insurance.

Officials said this will be a critical component of the state’s COVID-19 recovery

The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration said it has received approval from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, for its HIP Workforce Bridge program.

“This is a new, unique transitional phase for Healthy Indiana Plan members as they return to the workforce and to employer insurance or other health coverage,” the IFSSA said in a prepared statement. The program was designed and proposed by FSSA in 2019 after direction from Governor Eric J. Holcomb to support his Next Level agenda and find a way to help Hoosiers maintain coverage and avoid potential negative consequences from advancing in the workforce.

“The HIP Workforce Bridge program will be especially important during our state’s recovery from the COVID pandemic and as Indiana’s economy evolves,” Holcomb said. “As Hoosiers skill-up, go back to school and go back to work, HIP Workforce Bridge will make that transition from HIP to marketplace insurance or employer-based coverage easier to navigate and afford.”

HIP Workforce Bridge will allow thousands of outgoing HIP participants to continue to use up to $1,000 from their POWER accounts for up to 12 months to pay premiums, deductibles, copayments and coinsurance during their transition to commercial coverage. This assistance will be offered to individuals as soon as they become ineligible for HIP due to earning higher incomes.

Indiana becomes the first state to establish such an innovative approach to eliminating the gap in health coverage that can prevent HIP members from pursuing meaningful employment, Holcomb said.

A HIP POWER account is similar to a health savings account. Each member has $2,500 in their POWER account each year to use for health care expenses. Normally they would lose the ability to use these funds as soon as they are no longer enrolled in the program, and unlike traditional health savings accounts, POWER accounts do not stay with the enrollee if they move to private insurance.

Due to the public health emergency, FSSA is not currently dis-enrolling members of any health coverage program, but with CMS’s approval, HIP Workforce Bridge will be in place to support members immediately once the governor’s executive order expires.

Since 2008, the Healthy Indiana Plan, the state’s consumer-driven health care plan, has demonstrated remarkable success providing coverage to its beneficiaries, empowering enrollees to become active participants in their health care coverage and improving member health outcomes, officials said.

“Now more than ever, it is critical that we provide stability and peace of mind for Hoosiers, especially when it comes to matters of their health,” said Jennifer Sullivan, M.D., M.P.H., secretary of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration. “We anticipate that more Hoosiers may need HIP health coverage during the emergency and we want to make sure that everyone can safely transition as they are able. This is one of our first efforts to mitigate the eligibility cliff effect in Indiana, which is a priority across all of our programs now more than ever.”

HIP members facing dis-enrollment due to an increase in income will be notified of their option to participate in the HIP Workforce Bridge program, officials said.

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