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In an effort to close the gap on providing comprehensive health care, United Health Services is adding a new program that aims to bring affordable health care insurance, local outreach and enrollment assistance for uninsured families, children and adults.  Through this program, uninsured individuals and families will be able to access insurance navigation assistance to both understand and enroll in insurance coverage.
 
On Oct. 1, 2015, Covering Kids & Families, North Central Indiana (CKF-NCI) officially joined the United Health Services family of programs.  Since 1998, Covering Kids & Families of Indiana has helped Hoosiers enroll in health care plans, including Hoosier Healthwise for mothers and children, and now the new Healthy Indiana Plan and “Marketplace” Plans through the Affordable Healthcare Act.  In 2014, this program helped over 16,000 people apply for coverage.  These efforts bring more than $1 billion to local CKF service areas to support hospitals, health centers and programs, and overall positively impacting the lives of those served.  
 
According to Mary Heck, executive director of United Health Services, Covering Kids & Families is important because the majority of the uninsured remain that way because they don’t understand the insurance plans available to them. There is a lack of health care literacy among the uninsured, a gray area when it comes to both understanding what is available to them and how to understand the different policies and choose the right one for them.  This is where Covering Kids & Families steps in to educate and encourages people to take control of their own healthcare.  It is an insurance navigation program that follows people through the entire process of learning about the plans, financially planning for them, understanding the policies and re-enrolling at the end of the year. 
This program is also a natural fit for UHS.  “We have been dedicated to serving the healthcare needs in our community for almost 50 years, and through those years we have been addressing the current needs and the perceived needs and right now getting the uninsured families in our community insured is a vital component of our organization,” said Heck.  “Having access to affordable health care, as well as the knowledge on how to actually use their insurance will improve the quality of life for thousands of people.  We are excited to be the administrator of this wonderful program.”
 
Through this new program, CKF navigators not only educate individuals and families about their healthcare insurance options, they also advise them in finding the right insurance plan that meets their financial needs and understanding their policies and deductibles, as well as re-enrolling at the end of the year. “We walk people through this program from beginning to end,” said Jim Baxter, program director for Covering Kids & Families, North Central Indiana. “It is our goal to increase the number of insured in St. Joseph and Marshall Counties and reduce health disparities throughout the area through outreach, education and enrollment activities.  We coordinate resources among member organizations and help establish and operate community-based education and enrollment centers.”
 
As the sixth program under the UHS banner, Heck also sees this program benefiting from the cross-programming among Breast Care Programs and Diabetes Resource Center.  With many of the medically underserved and uninsured already being referred to UHS to take care of women’s health needs and cardiovascular needs, UHS also sees this as an opportunity to get them the health insurance they need to protect themselves in the future.



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