State readies $2M ad campaign to show off HIP replacement

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State officials say they haven’t been hobbled a bit by their HIP replacement.

In fact, from its launch on Feb. 1 until the end of May, the new version of the Healthy Indiana Plan has pushed enrollment from 60,000 to 289,000 without breaking stride.

That puts enrollment in HIP 2.0, as it’s called, exactly where state officials expected to be, said Joe Moser, director of the Indiana Medicaid program, which includes HIP.

“We had been preparing for several months to launch the program, in anticipation of getting approval [from the Obama administration],” Moser said. “That time between last July and January when it was approved gave us a good amount of time to implement the program when we received approval.”

Nearly 60,000 of the new participants came over from Medicaid programs that were folded into HIP 2.0. But 170,000 participants are completely new to state-funded health insurance. HIP 2.0 provides each participant with a POWER account (similar to a health savings account), which must be partially funded by the participant.

Participants with incomes below the federal poverty line who do not make a payment into their POWER accounts get moved to something called HIP Basic, which has fewer benefits than the HIP Plus program for participants who do make POWER account contributions. Participants with incomes above the poverty line who don’t make POWER account contributions are locked out from any benefits for 60 days.
So far, Moser said, 71 percent of HIP 2.0 participants are in the HIP Plus program that requires POWER account contributions. And that percentage has been climbing.

Moser said the performance of the state staff that has handled the rush of HIP enrollments has been so good that he feels confident starting an ad campaign to promote even more sign-ups.

By the end of June, the state plans to launch a campaign promoting the things Hoosiers don’t receive when they’re uninsured. The campaign will cost about $2.2 million, split equally between the state and federal government.

“The basic gist of the creative is pointing out the types of things that Hoosiers go without when they don’t have health coverage: ignore chest pain, skip colonoscopy, to know blood sugar levels,” said Jim Gavin, director of media and communications at the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, which oversees the Indiana Medicaid and HIP programs. Print, radio, TV and billboard advertisements will direct their audience to a website or a call center for more information. “It’s a real public health message,” Gavin said.

The campaign will be the first real test of the state’s ability to handle what has been “immediate sustained uptake” into HIP 2.0, said Caitlin Priest, director of public policy at Covering Kids & Families, which helps Hoosiers in 32 counties enroll in health insurance programs.

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

Priest said the initial wave of participants have been folks with significant health needs but also significant knowledge of health insurance.

The next wave most likely will be those with less knowledge of insurance and health, who may have more questions and more complicated situations than the first wave.

“This next wave, subsequent wave will probably require a lot more case management and a lot more health literacy and insurance literacy,” Priest said.

The state hired 220 additional employees to handle the rush of HIP 2.0 enrollment. Moser said HIP 2.0 is on pace to have 357,000 participants by the end of the year and 519,000 by the end of 2016.

“We want to increase the public awareness of the program, and the fact that we have a coverage option for our low-income residents,” Moser said. “There are still pockets for the state that need more awareness.”

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