Millions of Americans could lose Medicaid health insurance as pandemic eases

Health insurance - Medicaid card

As uninsured figures reach record lows, the expiration of pandemic policies is now looming.

Health insurance experts are wondering if the massive gains in reducing the number of uninsured people there are living in the country will be lost as pandemic policies start coming to an end.

The uninsured rate has dipped to yet a new low, having reached approximately 8 percent of the population.

Some of that considerable achievement is the result of the policies put into place as a result of the pandemic. The government launched a range of emergency provisions in response to the COVID-19 crisis, including steps to make it easier and more affordable for everyone across the country to get health insurance coverage.

Health insurance - Medicaid enrollment

As a result, the last three years have made it notably easier for people to enroll in Medicaid. It became easier to qualify and many states withdrew their efforts to double check to be sure that those who did enroll are entitled to it. This meant that people enrolled in Medicaid in 2020 or who became eligible at any point since then have held onto their eligibility regardless of whether they experienced an increase in income.

That said, in April, states will begin checking eligibility status for all Medicaid enrollees once more. While this will be a substantial administrative task, it will also mean that anyone who has continued to hold onto their Medicaid coverage but has experienced a large enough income raise could find that their coverage is at risk.

This will mean that millions of Americans might need to purchase health insurance elsewhere.

According to estimates from the Biden administration, as many as 15 million people – approximately 1 in 6 of Medicaid’s 90 million enrollees – could potentially lose their coverage. Some will no longer be eligible for the coverage because of income or circumstance changes, such as a child turning 18 years old.

In these cases, states will provide alternative health insurance options, such as purchasing a plan from the Affordable Care Act marketplaces. It is unclear how many people will continue to be eligible for Medicaid after the pandemic measures come to an end in April, and only time will tell how many people who do end up losing Medicaid coverage take the steps to obtain a new plan somewhere else, such as an ACA exchange.

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