It may be a coincidence, but the Obamacare open enrollment period begins each year just as cold and flu season gets underway. Whether you live with children, work with the public, or just have a tendency to get sick, you may be tempted to sign up for Obamacare but doubt your ability to afford it. Depending on your family size, income, and other factors, you may qualify for Medicaid. And one of the best parts about Medicaid is you don’t have to wait for November 1 to arrive; you can apply at any time during the year.
What Is Medicaid?
Medicaid is a federal government- and state-funded program, and it is the largest health insurer in the country, according to Medicaid.gov.
Who’s Eligible for Medicaid?
“In all states, Medicaid provides health coverage for some low-income people, families and children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with disabilities,” says the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). “In some states, the program covers all low-income adults below a certain income level.”
Mandatory eligibility groups include:
• Those who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
• Children with Title IV-E adoption assistance, foster care, or guardianship care
• Aged, blind, and disabled individuals in 209(b) states
• Some widows and widowers
• Disabled adult children
• Individuals who elected COBRA continuation coverage
If you didn’t qualify in the past, you may qualify this year due to new rules and the fact that some states have expanded their coverage.
Which States Expanded Their Medicaid Coverage?
In the following states, you may qualify for Medicaid based solely on your income if you “earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or $16,394 per year,” according to CNBC.
• Washington, D.C.
• New Hampshire
• New Jersey
• New Mexico
• New York
• North Dakota
• Rhode Island
• West Virginia
Why Did Only Some States Expand Coverage?
The National Federation of Independent Business, a group that represents small businesses, tried to get the Supreme Court to repeal the Affordable Care Act. After the court’s June 2012 ruling, states were allowed to decide whether they wanted to expand Medicaid coverage. States can opt to expand coverage at any time, so if yours hasn’t yet, stay tuned.
How Has the Medicaid Expansion Helped People?
As of March 2016, nearly 72.5 million people were enrolled in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services.
That’s an increase of 15 million people since the first Obamacare open enrollment period three years ago, CNBC said. “It’s also almost 4 million people more than the number of customers enrolled in private Obamacare insurance plans sold on government exchanges this year.”
In states that expanded Medicaid coverage, the uninsured rate is 9.3 percent. In states that didn’t, the uninsured rate is 15.4 percent.
Need Help Getting Insurance?
If you need help applying for Medicaid, contact Freeway’s friendly, professional customer service representatives today. And if it turns out that you aren’t eligible, we can help you find health insurance that fits your budget.