SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- HIP 2.0 was implemented in February and has largely been considered a success but more than 20,000 eligible Northern Indiana residents have yet to sign up.
That's why a coalition in South Bend met Thursday to discuss ways to reach this percentage of people in our area.
"Until we get everybody healthy as a community, we're going to suffer," said Jim Baxter, Director of Covering Kids & Families.
To this point, more than 337,000 Hoosiers have signed up for HIP 2.0. So even though the remaining eligible residents who haven't signed up is a small percentage, the group thinks it's imperative to get them connected before an emergency arises.
"If we still have 12 to 15 percent, that's a crisis and we can solve it," Baxter said. "Now we have the solution and that wasn't the case a year ago thanks to the Healthy Indiana Plan. This is fundamental. Getting everybody covered is really essential to the success of our community, to the health of our community."
"The prospect of facing high dollar medical claims for you or your family and not having coverage, that could lead to a crisis for many Hoosiers," Jim Gavin, Director of Communication for Indiana Family and Social Services Administration said. "Since we know many people across the state that still have not become aware that the Healthy Indiana Plan has expanded and it's there for them and they haven't applied yet, the potential for a crisis, especially for individuals and families, still remains. Our effort needs to continue onto next year and beyond."
There was one woman in attendance who has taken advantage of HIP 2.0. Alice Moore went for almost a year without health insurance and considered herself pretty healthy. When she heard about the health insurance program, she signed up and after paying her first premium went to the doctor. They found she had autoimmune hepatitis, a non-contagious disease. She said HIP 2.0 made a great difference in her life.
"Without HIP 2.0 I would have over $100,000 in medical bills," Moore said. "Along with trying to be healthy, having the stress of not knowing how I'm going to pay for my medications or next doctor visit, that's something I'm so thankful that I don't have to worry about."
While HIP 2.0 has been extremely beneficial for people like Moore, spreading the word has proven to be the hardest part even with television and print advertisements.
"Our mission is everybody will have health insurance," Baxter said. "Whatever we can do to help in that effort, we'll do."
"The bottom line is we need to keep the effort going," Gavin said. "I think looking at the fact that we know there are still people that are uninsured and eligible for these programs, it will hopefully inspire the effort in Northern Indiana."
For more information and to see if you are eligible, visit the HIP 2.0 website here.