We live in uncertain times because of a once-in-a-lifetime public health crisis. Perhaps no other part of our lives has taken a more significant hit than how we secure ample health insurance coverage.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused a tremendous amount of stress on the American economy. Shuttered businesses and the loss of personal income emphasized the importance of safety-net programs such as Medicaid. At the start of July 2021, more than 86 million Americans had enrolled in Medicaid, which represented an increase of 12 million new participants in the federal safety net program since the start of 2020before the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Rapid enrollment growth of nearly 20 percent in just over 18 months in Medicaid stemmed from significant job losses that negatively impacted Americans. Without the safety net cast by Medicaid, we would have witnessed millions of Americans joining the ranks of the uninsured. Established at the onset of the pandemic, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) provided states with more federal funds to bolster their Medicaid programs, with the condition established that the states receiving the financial assistance did not take residents off the Medicaid list during the worst American public health crisis in more than 100 years.
As the COVID-19 pandemic started to lose steam in late 2021, many Americans that received financial assistance asked the question, “Will I lose Medicaid coverage in 2022.”
What is the Status of the Public Health Emergency?
At the heart of the expanded Medicaid coverage is the status of the public health emergency (PHE) declared by the federal government. The first declaration of the COVID-19-related PHE occurred in March of 2020, with extensions established every 90 days since then. In April 2022, the federal government continued the PHE until July 15, which appears to be the final extension of the PHE regarding Medicaid coverage. The Biden administration has let governors know they can expect to receive 60 days of advance notice when the PHE concerning the COVID-19 pandemic will come to an end.
A detailed study completed by the Urban Institute estimates as many as 15 million Americans might lose their Medicaid eligibility when the PHE is expected to end in mid-July of 2022.
How Should I Address the End of the PHE?
If you receive Medicaid benefits as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic PHE, you should be proactive by understanding the eligibility rules enforced by the state where you live. You need to respond to a request by your state’s Medicaid office for information that describes your financial status to determine whether you still qualify for financial assistance.
If your financial status no longer makes you eligible for Medicaid enrollment, you might be able to take advantage of a special enrollment period for an employer-supported health insurance plan. You have just 30 days to determine your eligibility for an employer-backed health insurance plan. If you do not qualify for an employer health insurance plan, you should apply for a premium tax credit to help pay for health insurance coverage that you buy in the open marketplace made available by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
You have 60 days before your Medicaid coverage expires to enroll in a health insurance plan offered in the open marketplace.
What is the Special Enrollment Period for Americans with Low Incomes?
As long the federal government offers subsidies, Americans living with income that is no more than 150 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) might qualify to participate in a new special enrollment period that runs through at least until December 31, 2022. Americans that have experienced an increase in income that disqualifies them from Medicaid coverage might be eligible to participate in the new enrollment period. The federal government unveiled the new enrollment period in March of 2022 on the website HealthCare.gov.
If you qualify for the new special enrollment period, you should submit an application as quickly as you can to ensure you continue to receive health insurance coverage.
The Bottom Line: Do Not Panic and Navigate Your Options With Insurance Broker Hub
The rapidly changing conditions to qualifying for federally funded financial assistance can take you by surprise. If you receive a letter from the state where you live that you no longer qualify for Medicaid coverage, you have the right to appeal the state decision by providing proof of your eligibility. The expected end of the COVID-19-related public health emergency and a return to the pre-pandemic rules for Medicaid eligibility might place a considerable amount of financial stress on you and your family.
Stay focused on demonstrating that you meet the eligibility criteria established for Medicaid by submitting the financial documents required to continue receiving financial assistance under the federal government program. The key is to be proactive to prevent an unexpected end to the public health emergency from placing you in limbo for health insurance coverage.
If you’re looking for help understanding your options, Insurance Broker Hub can help.
Our free service gives you access to an independent network of national brokers who have the experience and expertise to design a plan around your needs and budget. Ready to get started? Simply request a no obligation health insurance quote here.