When the COVID-19 pandemic began, the government declared a public health emergency and gave the states the ability to provide more citizens with health insurance through Medicaid. As a result, 25 percent more Americans now have access to health care, including preventative medical treatment.
While this Medicaid expansion has benefited many people, it is soon coming to an end. Many of these newer Medicaid recipients may be at risk of losing coverage as a result. When the public health emergency expires, an estimated 15 million people could be found ineligible.
How Does Medicaid Serve Americans?
Medicaid is a government-funded insurance system that allows low-income Americans to get health insurance. Many types of people benefit from Medicaid, including children, people with disabilities, and seniors.
Traditionally, Medicaid coverage has been fantastic for people who could not otherwise see doctors or get preventative care. Visiting doctors before an emergency lowers the cost of health care for everyone, which has an overall positive impact on the country’s health care system.
Families First Coronavirus Response Act
In response to the pandemic, the federal government declared a public health emergency on January 1, 2020. Congress enacted the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) to increase the federal money spent on Medicaid programs. The FFCRA is a temporary measure.
Under the FFCRA, the feds offered to increase spending on Medicaid by 6.2 percent. That allowed more people to get coverage. In exchange for the extra funding, states could not disenroll anyone who had enrolled in Medicaid from March 2020 onward.
When Does the Temporary Medicaid Expansion End?
Medicaid recipients are concerned about losing their health insurance when the COVID-19 public health emergency ends. Several extensions have already been made to the public health emergency.
The current expiration date is now May 11, 2023.
What Happens to My Coverage After the Medicaid Expansion Ends?
Before the pandemic, states required Medicaid recipients to redetermine their eligibility for coverage on a regular basis. Normally, people lose their Medicaid coverage when certain circumstances change — for example, if their income increases. The FFCRA temporarily eliminated this redetermination requirement, giving more people continuous access to health care.
After the public health emergency ends, states will return to normal operations regarding Medicaid. They will be tasked with re-evaluating all of their Medicaid beneficiaries within 14 months. Many may lose their coverage after attempting to re-enroll.
Often in need of more complex medical support, older Americans are especially at risk should they become mistakenly disenrolled. If they moved, experienced a change in income, or had another shift in their resources since the beginning of the pandemic, they may lose their Medicaid eligibility. Others could face a gap in coverage.
What Can I Do?
The government is issuing information to the states about returning to normal operations after the public health emergency expires. It is intended to guide them through this so-called “unwinding” period.
As Medicaid restarts eligibility checks for enrollees, keep an eye out for communications from Medicaid and to respond promptly.
You may also wish to spend time researching other types of coverage available to you. If Medicaid finds that you no longer meet its eligibility criteria, you want to be prepared. For example, you may be able to transition to coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces.