Mike Ripley, President
There’s good news coming from the state this month for some of our small-business clients and other businesses who employ lower-income workers. It’s a new program that’s part of the state’s HIP 2.0 program that could help tens of thousands of working poor in our state.
The State of Indiana has reached out to INAHU to discuss the upcoming launch of HIP Link. It’s an optional “third leg” of the new Healthy Indiana Plan that will help low-income Hoosiers afford their employer-sponsored health insurance plans. HIP Link is a defined contribution premium assistance program that provides each enrollee with a $4,000 Personal Wellness and Responsibility Account, or POWER account. This account pays for the employee’s premium and other costs for employer-group health insurance.
Over the next several weeks and months, we’ll be hearing a lot about HIP Link. INAHU is encouraging the state, namely the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, to present the HIP Link program at upcoming regional chapter meetings. In the meantime, here are some basics about the program:
- Businesses of all sizes can participate including fully insured or with self-funded plans.
- Employers interested in offering HIP Link as an option to their employees can join the program by registering with the state to become a HIP Link employer. Their health plans will need to meet minimum benefit and affordability standards. (Small-group health plans that are updated to meet the 2014 Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirements will meet the benefit requirements to participate in HIP Link.)
- Basic requirements for a business to register include having a federal employer identification number, employing 50 or fewer fulltime employees, and having at least one employee that is an Indiana resident.
- To qualify, employees or dependents must be at least 21 years old and, just like in the HIP program overall, have a household income at or below approximately 138 percent of the federal poverty level ($16,436 per year for an individual and $33,865 for a family of four). They also must meet other HIP eligibility requirements.
- Employers will deduct the employee cost of premiums charged from the employee’s pay, per normal procedures. In turn, the State will reimburse the employee directly for the amount of the deduction. The state will also fund a portion of the employee’s out-of-pocket costs for the employer-sponsored insurance.
- HIP Link provides a real advantage to employers, because it can help them to enroll more employees in their health plan and help them meet health-plan participation requirements. Additionally, small employers using the SHOP marketplace may receive tax benefits. If the employer offers vision and dental, these benefits will be eligible to be reimbursed by HIP Link.
Indiana has never had a premium assistance program like HIP Link. In this time of massive insurance changes, complex legal mandates and economic hardship, HIP Link is an excellent opportunity for us to grow our business while offering another benefit avenue for employers, and potentially improving employee retention and job satisfaction.