EAST CHICAGO | In one of the biggest turnouts for any program sponsored at St. Catherine Hospital, about 100 people stopped in Tuesday for a briefing on the state's Healthy Indiana Plan, or HIP, the program for uninsured adult Hoosiers.
Rolled out in December, the program already has 18,000 applicants, according to Sherri Miles, provider relations manager for MDwise, one of the two state-contracted insurance plans available to those eligible for HIP. The other provider is Anthem.
About 562,000 Hoosiers are chronically uninsured, and 67 percent of them are estimated to be eligible for HIP. The program has funding to cover 130,000 Hoosiers a year on a first-come, first-served basis.
Signed into law in April, the program is expected to be watched closely as a potential national model.
Miles said of major note is that the program is not an entitlement program. It requires a monthly financial contribution from recipients based on income and mirrors commercial plans.
Miles, along with Jamie Bruce, who also represents MDwise, have been traveling around the state explaining the program, mostly to providers until Tuesday's event in East Chicago.
Bruce said among the most common misperceptions about the program is that HIP is open to smaller pools of people than it is.
Rumors that the state is putting limits on how many people can be selected from different parts of the state are not true, she said.
"The other misperception is that this is a program for pregnant women. It is not," Bruce said. "There are other programs for pregnant women."
Bruce said the third major misperception is that children are eligible for HIP. Again, they are not because they are covered under another program, she said.
Open to nondisabled adults between the ages of 19 and 64, the program is a rarity because it is available to low-income adults with no dependents like Martha Gutierrez, of East Chicago. Gutierrez works part time and does not have access to insurance. In addition, HIP is open to uninsured parents or caretaker relatives of children in the Hoosier Healthwise program.
Debbie Lowe, of Hammond, is one of those parents with children who are insured but with no insurance herself.
"I haven't any insurance in more than 10 years," Lowe said. "I absolutely would like it."