More than half a million vets could find themselves without coverage, say researchers.
New research from the (left-leaning) Urban Institute has said 600,000 veterans health insurance policies may cease next year. The reason, said the report, is that in 19 states, Medicaid is not expanding enough to cover the vets.
Even with the Medicaid expansion that has already occurred, there continue to be hundreds of thousands of uninsured.
The Urban Institute has cautioned that unless the 19 states that have continued to withhold the expansion broaden their programs, there will only be more. Without veterans health insurance, many vets will not have a way to pay for the medical care they require. Those 19 states are all led by Republican governors. Within them, there are currently 327,000 veterans who are likely to go without health insurance policies in 2017.
Of those who will lose their veterans health insurance, over 120,000 are within the “Medicaid gap.”
People who fall into that so-called gap are those who make too much money to be able to qualify for Medicaid or for federal subsidies for the health insurance exchanges. That said, they make too little for the coverage to be affordable when paying the full premiums. Moreover, these individuals also don’t necessarily qualify for any or full care from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
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The Urban Institute’s report said, “Some uninsured veterans may qualify for VA care, but not all take up the available coverage or meet the eligibility requirements, which are based on service-connected disability status, veteran discharge status, income, and other factors.”
That represents a reduction since the figures in 2014, at which time there were over 700,000 vets who didn’t have health insurance policies. “If Medicaid expansion decisions do not change between now and 2017, we project that approximately 604,000 veterans will be uninsured in 2017 and that 54 percent will be living in states that have yet to expand Medicaid,” said the report.
Still, even among the states that have gone ahead and expanded their Medicaid programs, some vets still fall into the gap. In fact, there are an estimated 84,000 veterans in the Medicaid gap in states where the expansion took place. Though the problem of veterans health insurance coverage is not one that is exclusive to states without expanded Medicaid, it is the size of the problem that was addressed in the report.