Since the end of March, millions of Americans relying on Medicaid for medical care face a somber deadline. Since April 1, states began removing individuals from the government’s health insurance program for low-income individuals, gradually reducing the numbers that surged during the pandemic.
According to government estimates, approximately 15 million people, roughly 1 in 6 of the 84 million enrolled in Medicaid, will be removed from the program. Here’s why this is occurring and what individuals need to be aware of.
During the pandemic, procedures to terminate Medicaid coverage were put on hold. Prior to the crisis, individuals would typically lose their Medicaid benefits if their income exceeded the qualifying threshold or if they relocated to a different state or obtained healthcare coverage through their employer. However, with the arrival of COVID-19, these terminations were halted, resulting in a rise of 5 million enrollees between 2020 and 2022.
Individuals at risk of losing Medicaid coverage may have relocated or experienced an increase in income that renders them ineligible. Ellen Taverna, associate director of the Together for Medicaid program at Community Catalyst, explained, “Millions of people, including working adults and parents with children, will lose their Medicaid coverage when they attempt to re-enroll.” Among them, an estimated 380,000 are working adults who won’t qualify for alternative health coverage because their income is too low to be eligible for Obamacare subsidies, yet too high for Medicaid enrollment.
The timing of coverage termination varies based on the state of residence.Some states have already initiated the disenrollment process. As reported by the Associated Press, in the following nine states, individuals no longer eligible for Medicaid could have been removed in April: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oklahoma, and West Virginia.
However, not all ineligible individuals will be immediately dropped from the program, as each state has established different timelines for reevaluating Medicaid eligibility. Most states are expected to take between nine months and a full year to complete the verification process.