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Enrollment fair provides some answers about ACA

LaShaunButler IndianNavigator for Community HealthNet Gary talks Charmaine NelsMerrillville her granddaughter Precious Moore about Nelson's Affordable Care Act options. People

LaShauna Butler, Indiana Navigator for Community HealthNet of Gary, talks to Charmaine Nelson of Merrillville and her granddaughter, Precious Moore, about Nelson's Affordable Care Act options. People are encouraged to enroll by March 31. | Michelle L. Quinn~for Sun-Times Media.

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Updated: March 20, 2014 10:09AM



Charmaine Nelson was just as surprised as anyone when she recently found out the truth about some of the Affordable Care Act’s provisions, about which there had been misconceptions.

Nelson, of Merrillville, who attended the city of Gary’s recent Affordable Health Care Enrollment Fair at the Genesis Convention Center, hasn’t had health insurance in four years. She knew the March 31 deadline was coming up, so she went, although she was pretty convinced she wouldn’t qualify for anything.

That isn’t necessarily true, said Lisa Adediran, program coordinator for Covering Kids and Families at Community HealthNet, one of the participating vendors. In fact, there are several plans for which people can qualify even though Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has been opposed to expanding traditional Medicaid in the state.

“There’s this illusion that people won’t be eligible for any number of reasons,” Adediran said. “We can’t necessarily tell you off-hand what or if someone will qualify unless they come in, but there are definitely more options — Healthy Indiana, ACA and Medicaid, to name a few — than people think.”

Those who don’t qualify — and Adediran said there will be a percentage who won’t because they fall outside the income guidelines — won’t automatically be penalized for not having insurance, either.

If one is not eligible to enroll, there are between 12 and 16 exemptions to avoid having to pay the penalty, which runs anywhere from $95 to 1 percent of a person’s income.

Not knowing about the exemptions and fear of having to pay the penalty likely are why Adediran and her team saw so few people. During their segment of the fair, they saw only six participants.

“Many people will fall through the cracks because the state didn’t expand Medicaid, but there are exemptions. We really encourage people to call for an appointment to check,” she said.

Nelson was glad she did.

“I’ve heard some of the insurances don’t want you to make any money,” Nelson said after applying for the Healthy Indiana Plan.



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