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Health, Science & Tech

Confusion Over Healthy PA Could Slow Enrollment, Some Health Care Advocates Say

A handful of health care advocates are worried that confusing messages in the media might prevent thousands of Pennsylvania from getting the free and low-cost health insurance they deserve.

The Corbett administration reached an agreement with the federal government this year to launch the Healthy PA program in lieu expanding Medicaid. Open enrollment in the program has started and coverage will take effect Jan. 1.  However Governor-elect Tom Wolf says he will scrap Healthy PA and opt in to Medicaid expansion.

The impending switch apparently has confused many low-income Pennsylvanians, and some are sitting on the sidelines rather than signing up for coverage.

“The most important things is for people to enroll and to get their names on the list,” said State Rep. Vincent Hughes (D- Philadelphia).  “If they are not on the list then they won’t get the coverage."

Despite the confusion, more than 27,000 households applied for coverage in the first week of enrollment, which began Dec. 1.

Uninsured Pennsylvanians with an annual income of less than 138 percent of the federal poverty limit are eligible for Healthy PA. That comes out to $16,105 for a single person and $32,913 for a family of four. It has been estimated that there are approximately 600,000 Pennsylvanians who qualify.

Hughes hopes the transition from Healthy PA to Medicaid will be a smooth one.

“They (the federal government) are closely monitoring what is going on in Pennsylvania, they want to make sure this is a smooth transition.  They are looking for an extra level spirit of cooperation between the outgoing Corbett administration and Governor-elect Tom Wolf,” Hughes said.

Unlike the federal health exchange, the Healthy PA program does not have a deadline for enrollment but to get coverage starting Jan. 1, the paperwork must be completed by Dec 15.

Applications can be made online, by phone at 1-866-550-4355 or through a County Assistance Office