The deadline is approaching for Indiana residents to sign-up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, and several organizations are hoping to target rural Hoosiers.
Those eligible to receive health insurance on the marketplace have until January 31st. A conference call on Wednesday was used to explain why rural Hoosiers are an area of need for uninsured populations in the United States.
The Department of Health and Human Services’ Region 5 Director Kathleen Falk says it’s a critical time to meet the sign-up deadline, especially for those may be at-risk of not receiving health insurance.
“For those who don’t sign up for 2016 and have the opportunity and can afford to do so, there’s a fine that will be imposed in 2017 and we don’t want that to happen to anyone,” says Falk. “The fine is $695 or 2.5% of your income, whichever is larger.”
The U.S. has seen 18-million citizens insured as part of the ACA that were previously uninsured.
According to Falk, prior to the passage of the ACA, rural uninsured residents were paying 50-percent of their healthcare costs out of pocket. In addition, one in five farmers were carrying some form of debt to pay for medical bills.
Falk says this is particularly important because rural residents typically suffer from chronic diseases at a higher rate than those living in urban areas.
“We know they are likely to be older than their urban counterparts, they tend to have lower incomes, and they’re more likely to be self-employed – which means less likely to have health insurance through their jobs,” says Falk.
Residents have until the end of the month to sign-up for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
By dialing 211 on their phones, rural Indiana residents may also be put in touch with an in-person counselor to help them navigate the healthcare market place.