FRIDAY, Sept. 17, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- When the COVID-19 public health emergency ends, a new crisis in insurance coverage in the United States may begin.
Fifteen million Americans who enrolled in Medicaid during the pandemic could lose their coverage when the emergency declaration ends, according to an analysis by the Urban Institute, a social policy think tank.
Its researchers said states can minimize disenrollment by keeping residents covered through the federal health insurance Marketplace (HealthCare.gov).
"Before the public health emergency expires, state and federal policymakers have time to consider how best to address both Medicaid beneficiaries' needs for maintaining health coverage, and the financial and administrative pressures on state and local governments," said Matthew Buettgens, senior fellow at the Urban Institute, in Washington, D.C.
"States can take actions to minimize unnecessary disenrollment and ensure that those losing Medicaid coverage know about their other coverage options, particularly Marketplace coverage with premium tax credits," Buettgens added in an institute news release.
Researchers found that the continuous coverage requirement of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act would increase Medicaid enrollment by about 17 million through the end of 2021, when the public health emergency is expected to expire. It would lead to 76.3 millions Medicaid beneficiaries under the age of 65.
During this crisis, state Medicaid agencies were prohibited from enrolling people.
The study found that the enrollment of Medicaid beneficiaries could drop next year by around 15 million. That includes six million children.
Researchers estimated that approximately one third of those who have lost Medicaid coverage could be eligible for Marketplace tax credits, if the American Rescue Plan Act's enhanced tax credits were to remain permanent.
The study showed that 57% of children would qualify for Children's Health Insurance Program and another 9% for Marketplace coverage with tax credit.
The researchers stated that it is crucial for states to encourage enrollment and coordinate Medicaid with the Marketplaces. These Marketplaces were created by the Affordable Care Act.
Avenel Joseph (Vice President for Policy at Robert Wood Johnson Foundation), said that expanding Medicaid access improves the health outcomes of communities of color, and people with low incomes. Access to comprehensive and affordable health care is a key step towards reducing the long-standing health disparities between racial or ethnic groups that have been exacerbated since the outbreak.
Healthcare.gov offers more information on health care coverage.
SOURCE: Urban Institute press release Sept. 15, 2021