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GARY | More than 20,000 Lake County residents have signed up for the Healthy Indiana Plan this year, though several thousand more qualify but remain uninsured, the state's Medicaid director said Monday in Northwest Indiana.

"We think there are still 7,000 or more people (in Lake County) who are eligible for HIP who are not enrolled yet," Joe Moser told a meeting of the Gary Chamber of Commerce at Majestic Star Hotel in Gary.

"That's the group we're trying to reach."

The state recently began a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign to promote the health care program across Indiana.

In February, the federal government approved HIP 2.0, which uses funds from the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, to extend health coverage for low-income Hoosiers willing to pay 2 percent of their earnings toward their premiums. The program is open to people between ages 19 and 64 who earn less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $16,436 for an individual and $33,865 for a family of four.

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At Monday's meeting, Moser also encouraged Northwest Indiana businesses to sign up for HIP Link, which allows employees who are income-eligible for HIP to use government subsidies to pay their employer-sponsored insurance premiums. Since that program started June 1, eight Indiana employers have applied.

"A lot of individuals who qualify for HIP are working adults," Moser said, touting the benefits of HIP Link: "Employees who are healthy are more productive and come to work regularly and on time."

Statewide, 289,000 have enrolled in HIP 2.0, including 186,000 who were uninsured, Moser said.

"It's really given them peace of mind about catastrophic medical costs and helping them avoid worries about bankruptcy from medical bills," he said.

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Health Reporter

Giles is the health reporter for The Times, covering the business of health care as well as consumer and public health. He previously wrote about health for the Lawrence (Kansas) Journal-World. He is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.