Finding health options in area: 1 plan available to residents in county for 2018

Local residents attempting to find health care coverage on the Affordable Care Marketplace for 2018 were initially dismayed to learn that neither of the two plans available to Hoosiers offered Columbus Regional Hospital as a provider.

But the hospital said it signed a contract at deadline with one of the companies, CareSource, meaning patients in Bartholomew County will be able to use local hospital services instead of having to travel to Indianapolis or Seymour for healthcare.

When researching coverage options on the marketplace website, Debra Williams of Columbus was worried at first that she would not be able to use the local hospital for medical care.

“It just leaves us high and dry with no resources,” she said.

Without Columbus Regional Hospital and its physicians aligned with CareSource, the options were not looking good, said Allen Gifford of Columbus.

“We are retirees with adequate means to pay,” Gifford said. “This is purely an availability problem for us.”

But the new development regarding Columbus Regional has improved the outlook for customers scrambling to find coverage that will work for them.

In Indiana, more than 30,000 MDWise patients and about 45,000 Anthem patients are looking for a new insurance plan on the exchange after the two companies left the Marketplace effective the end of this year. Both had offered coverage and had contracts with health care providers in all 92 Indiana counties.

CareSource, a nonprofit health care plan headquartered in Dayton, Ohio, is offering coverage in four states — Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia — for 2018, the company said.

CareSource is offering coverage in 79 Indiana counties, including Bartholomew, the company said.

During last year’s enrollment, CareSource enrolled about 160,000 patients in its plans, including 40,000 Hoosiers, the company said.

This year’s enrollment in the Marketplace plans began Nov. 1 and continues through Dec. 15, a shorter enrollment period that has usually been offered.

Wellconnect, which is part of the Columbus Regional Hospital network, has licensed navigators available to help people seeking health insurance through the marketplace to find a policy, said Kelly Lowry, Wellconnect program coordinator and a licensed navigator.

She urged anyone with questions about signing up for coverage to stop in Wellconnect’s offices at 237 Washington St. or to call with questions.

Wellconnect has five navigators working with applicants, Mill Race Center has one, and another navigator at Columbus Regional Hospital is available to help, she said.

“Anybody is welcome to come by,”¬†Lowry said. “We have had some calls so far.”

Lowry explained that some of the confusion has occurred as there are two companies, CareSource and Ambetter, listed as Indiana options, but only CareSource is available for Bartholomew County applicants.

The CareSource plans are comparable to what was offered on MDWise and Anthem last year, she said.

Ambetter is offered through Managed Health Services, which supervises Hoosier Healthwise, Healthy Indiana and the Hoosier Care Connect Medicaid programs. Managed Health Services is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Centene Corp., headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri.

Ambetter is not offering plans in Bartholomew County, Lowry said. The closest counties would be Marion, Clark and Floyd counties, and you have to be a resident there to sign up, she said.

Signing up for the marketplace

Licensed navigators from Columbus Regional Health are available to help applicants seeking to sign up for a health insurance plan on the Affordable Care Act’s Marketplace.

Where: Wellconnect, 237 Washington St.

How to contact: Call 812-343-9840 or visit crh.org/service-centers/wellconnect

Deadline to sign up for Marketplace plans: Dec. 15

People can also sign up on their own by visiting healthcare.gov

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.