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Advertising campaign starting to boost enrollment for Indiana's expanded health care program

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INDIANAPOLIS — A state agency is about to launch an advertising campaign to encourage enrollment in Indiana's expanded health care program for low-income residents.

The $2 million campaign for the new Healthy Indiana Plan starts Monday with television, radio, online, newspaper and billboard ads. Its focus will include highlighting health services such as cancer screenings or preventive dental care that people without health insurance often don't receive.

Some 177,000 new participants have enrolled for coverage since January, when federal officials approved Gov. Mike Pence's state-run plan, dubbed HIP 2.0, according to state officials. About 110,000 people in existing state coverage programs were folded into the new plan.

"The program is off to a fantastic start," state Medicaid director Joe Moser told The Journal Gazette. "People are finding value in the coverage and are very thankful they have an option."

Indiana's expanded program uses federal Medicaid funding under President 's health care law to cover those in household with incomes below 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or an annual income of just less than $33,000 for a family of four.

About 70 percent of those enrolled are on the HIP Plus plan, which requires 2 percent of a family's income go to a health savings account each month.

State officials are hoping to boost enrollment to about 357,000 by the end of this year and 519,000 by the end of 2016.

"There are still pockets for the state that need more awareness," Moser told the Indianapolis Business Journal.

About 800,000 aged, blind and disabled Indiana residents also are still on traditional Medicaid, which does not require participants to share in the costs.

The ad campaign will test whether the HIP program can accommodate so many additional participants, said Caitlin Priest, public policy director at Covering Kids & Families, which helps people in 32 counties enroll in health insurance programs.

"It went off really well at the beginning," Priest said. "The $64,000 question is what is the impact going to be of this PR campaign on the infrastructure?"

Priest said the new enrollees most likely will be people with less knowledge of insurance and health, with more questions and more complicated situations.

"This next wave, subsequent wave will probably require a lot more case management and a lot more health literacy and insurance literacy," she said.

Federal funding is paying for about half the cost of the advertising campaign.

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