LANSING — Enrollment begins today for Michigan's expanded Medicaid program.
State officials say they're ready to handle a "large number of people" applying for the health insurance program that's available to some 477,000 low-income Michiganders.
That number includes 75,000 residents age 50 to 64 who are not yet eligible for Medicare.
The plan, called Healthy Michigan, is expected to cover 320,000 people in the first year.
The website went through rigorous testing in an effort avoid the technical glitches that plagued the rollout of the federal health insurance marketplace last fall.
Even Gov. Rick Snyder gave it a test run.
"I think we're well-positioned to make that launch, we've had people working really hard to make sure the website launches and we do appropriate communications to the public," Snyder said on Friday. "I in fact signed up as one of the testers. I thought it was important that I actually see what that experience is like so I went and signed my family up hypothetically, and it was an experience that I think is doable by people."
The system should work even if everyone who is eligible applies today.
"We're pretty confident our system can handle that," said Angela Minicuci, spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Community Health.
Here are six things to know about Healthy Michigan and Medicaid:
Who's eligible: The plan is available to residents ages 19 to 64 who are not currently eligible for Medicaid or Medicare, and earn up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, which is about $16,000 for a single person and $33,000 for a family of four.
How to apply: Michiganders can find information on the plan at healthymichiganplan.org. They can also apply any time by phone at (855) 789-5610 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, or in person at Michigan Department of Human Services offices and federally qualified health centers.
What you need to apply:
• Social Security numbers of everyone included on the application, including dependents.
• Employer and income information for everyone in the family, such as a W-2 form or wage statement.
• Policy numbers for your current insurance plan, if you have one.
• Information on any job-related insurance that's available to your family.
When coverage starts: The insurance will be retroactive to April 1 for applications submitted in April, or the first day of whatever month they apply.
How much it costs: Michigan's program is different from other states' Medicaid expansions in that it requires premiums and co-pays from new recipients.
After you enroll, you still have to select a specific health plan within Healthy Michigan. You'll have to pay a fee for any health services you receive before you select a specific health plan. After you select a plan, you won't have any co-pays or premiums for the first six months.
Those with annual incomes between 100 percent and 133 percent of the federal poverty level are required to contribute 2 percent of their annual income for cost sharing. There also are premiums and co-pays. You can reduce the cost by completing an annual health risk assessment and change unhealthy behaviors such as smoking. Total cost sharing, premiums and co-pays can't exceed 5 percent of your annual household income.
"Annual contributions and co-pays can be reduced by maintaining or addressing healthy behaviors, and co-pays will not be required for certain services that help you get or stay healthy, like preventive services and services that help you manage a chronic condition," according to HealthyMichiganPlan.org.
Co-pays range from $1 to $3 for most services. The copay for an inpatient hospital stay is $50, with the exception of emergency admissions. There are exemptions for copays that are the same as the traditional Medicaid program. More details are available at healthymichiganplan.org.
How we got here: Snyder and the Republican-led Legislature approved the Healthy Michigan Plan last year but the Senate did not give the measure immediate effect, delaying implementation until April 1.
Traditional Medicaid: The traditional Medicaid program covers about 1.8 million people, almost entirely children and pregnant or recent mothers. About 60,000 low-income adults were covered through Medicaid's adult benefits waiver program. That program covered people up to about 35 percent of the poverty level but was capped due to funding. Those adults are now covered under the Healthy Michigan program.
People who may qualify under the traditional requirements and applied on the federal government's Healthcare.gov are asked to reapply on the Michigan Bridges site. Glitches in the federal site delayed applications for more than 57,000 applications covering 84,000 residents.