It’s one thing to enrich the wealthy through targeted tax cuts, etc., but must government make the poor needier?
That’s looking likely since Congress in its Consolidated Appropriations Act, enacted Dec. 29, 2022, set March 31 of this year as when enhanced Medicaid was dropped from the nation’s Public Health Emergency response to the COVID pandemic.
States will begin cutting people from Medicaid when they stop being eligible due to their income, which has been on hiatus since the pandemic. Until this spring, about 85 million people were covered by Medicaid — 3.9 million Illinoisans — set up to help low-income households. But the coverage will be cut for millions of Americans in the next several months.
Federal officials estimate some 8 million people could lose their eligibility and be cut off from Medicaid because their incomes are different than before. In Illinois, the state’s Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) estimates that 700,000 Illinoisans could be affected.
Starting soon, all Medicaid customers must renew their coverage — not required since March 2020 — and government notifications will be staggered. That means that early this month, those due for renewal on June 1 were notified of the change. Those due to renew July 1 will get notices on June 1, and so on.
The change could force many people into the inconvenience and confusion of seeking coverage through the health insurance marketplace.
Medicaid is a comprehensive health insurance program jointly funded by federal and state dollars. In Illinois, about 3.9 million people are covered, from low-income adults and children, to pregnant women and people with disabilities. Early in the pandemic, Congress adjusted Medicaid with changes such as more federal funding to keep customers enrolled, even if their incomes changed. This “continuous coverage” ensured people would not lose coverage during the pandemic unless they moved out of state, requested cancellation, or died.
Now, Medicaid beneficiaries are advised to look for options before they’re dropped. Becoming ineligible for Medicaid doesn’t mean you cannot get insurance, but you’ll have to go elsewhere, and seeking affordable health protection for families — coverage for doctors and medicines — can seem overwhelming, with dozens of providers, different subsidies and other costs and details to consider.
States’ health insurance marketplaces, created by the Affordable Care Act, are where people can buy individual insurance with the possibilities of income-based subsidies. They can be found through the federal government’s website: https://ift.tt/PWSl0tI
People being excluded from Medicaid also might think about coverage available outside these marketplaces, but independent plans may not offer coverage of some things, such as pre-existing conditions, or have higher deductibles, or limited doctor or hospital networks.
While waiting for notification, people should plan ahead. Illinois’ HFS recommends going online to abe.illinois.gov and clicking “Manage my case” to set up an online account, verifying your correct address (in the “Contact us” tab) to make sure you get HFS’s mail, and looking up your due date (in the “Benefit details” tab) so you’ll know when to expect notification.
“If we have enough current information about you to decide if you still qualify, we might be able to automatically renew your coverage,” HFS says. “If we need information, you must submit your renewal by the due date on your form. You can submit online by clicking ‘Manage my case’ at abe.illinois.gov, mail your form according to the letter, or call toll-free (800) 843-6154.
“If you are no longer eligible for Medicaid, it is important to quickly get other health insurance,” HFS says. “You usually have 60 days to enroll in a new plan. Ask your job about health insurance or visit the official Affordable Care Act marketplace for Illinois at GetCoveredIllinois.gov. You can get free help signing up for a plan that meets your needs. Most people find a plan for $10 or less per month after tax credits.”
People with other questions should go to the “Manage my case” button at abe.illinois.gov.
Good luck being proactive — and resisting the sense you’re being smacked while you’re down.
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April 28, 2023 at 04:10PM