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Marketplace open enrollment may help Hoosiers affected by Medicaid unwinding

A stethoscope lays on an official-looking sheet of paper with a pen nearby.
This year’s Marketplace application will have a small change: three new demographic questions. The new questions are optional and collect information on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Open enrollment for 2024 coverage on the Health Insurance Marketplace begins on Nov. 1. This year’s open enrollment period is especially important for people who lost coverage due to Medicaid unwinding.

The Marketplace allows individuals and families who aren’t covered to compare and apply for insurance plans from private insurers.

Susan Jo Thomas, executive director of Covering Kids and Families of Indiana, said the Marketplace open enrollment period is important for people affected by the Medicaid unwinding.

“This open enrollment is perfectly timed to be able to absorb folks who have not been able to to get re-enrolled in Medicaid for some categorical reason,” Thomas said.

This year’s application will have a small change: three new demographic questions. The new questions are optional and collect information on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Thomas said the data will be used to analyze health disparities in access to coverage, but people may be hesitant to answer.

“I'm afraid that some folks will either be turned off by it for whatever reason,” Thomas said. “Or I'm afraid that they will feel like they can't answer honestly because it will be somehow communicated to the health care provider network or the insurer.”

While the application has some changes, other parts of the Marketplace haven’t changed.

Thomas said a rule proposed in April would have allowed DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, recipients to enroll in Marketplace coverage. However, the rule was not finalized.

Thomas said the rule will not be in effect for this enrollment period, but might be proposed for next year’s enrollment period.

“This would just be a recognition of the gifts they bring, if we could also offer them health insurance,” Thomas said. “I'm very hopeful that we'll get there.”

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Thomas said there are resources for people who need help finding the coverage that works best for them.

“The best option that we have is a navigator,” Thomas said. “Someone who has been trained and certified, taken an exam, passed all the background questions and has the special sauce to be able to help.”

Thomas said Covering Families and Kids of Indiana has insurance navigators, but even having a trusted friend as a second set of eyes can be beneficial.

People who enroll on or before Dec. 15 can get coverage that begins on Jan. 1. Coverage for those who enroll between Dec. 16 and Jan. 16 will start on Feb. 1.

Abigail is our health reporter. Contact them at aruhman@wboi.org.
Copyright 2023 IPB News.

Abigail Ruhman

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