Of the 4,400 applications for health insurance for individuals processed in the first month of HealthSource RI, the state’s new health-insurance exchange, 26-year-old Tori’s Hitchiner wasn’t among them.
Hitchiner is still weighing her options. She’s one of those young people national health care leaders are hoping to convince to buy health coverage to make the Affordable Care Act a success.
“I definitely want to get health insurance. I’m not one of those people who thinks I’m invulnerable,” said Hitchiner, a 2011 journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island who is living with her parents in Scituate and working full time since September at a child care facility.
Hitchiner’s employer does offer a health plan, but she didn’t sign up right away because she knew the state exchange would be coming online in October and she wanted to compare coverage and cost.
She had been on her parents’ health insurance until she turned 26 in February and the gap of a few months in coverage seemed short enough to be safe.
“My thought was I need health insurance, but it’s not immediately pressing,” said Hitchiner. Hitchiner wasn’t sure if she could buy insurance through the exchange because her employer offers a plan – she’s still not sure but plans to find out.
Rhode Island has “full employee choice” for employees of companies with 50 or fewer employees, with some requirements, said Dara Chadwick, spokeswoman for HealthSource RI.
First, the company has to decide whether or not it will participate in the exchange. If not, and it offers a plan that meets the federal requirements, the employee cannot buy through the state exchange.
Hitchiner isn’t sure yet if her employer has 50 employees because the company has more than one location.
If the small business does participate in the exchange, the company picks a plan and the employee can take the company plan or choose another through the exchange and apply the company’s allowed premium.