Next steps: Where those no longer eligible for Medicaid in SC can turn
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Medicaid coverage will end for millions of Americans in the coming months, potentially leaving those stripped of Medicaid confused on where to turn next.
The federal government allowed people to remain on Medicaid if they were no longer eligible during the pandemic, but for the first time since 2020, a new eligibility process begins this spring.
Government-funded Medicaid focuses on people with low incomes. Before the pandemic, approximately 1.05 million people in South Carolina were covered by Medicaid, with that number growing to 1.3 million currently. After the upcoming eligibility application process, the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services says that number is expected to be back to the 2020 numbers.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services will resume its standard Medicaid eligibility reviews on April 1, but the agency anticipates it will take twelve months to complete the entire process.
This means that some people with Medicaid coverage will not receive a notice until March of 2024. Regarding how this process will occur, Jeff Leieritz, South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Director of Strategic Communications, says the department will first work through the individuals who are no longer eligible based off of age and income.
Medicaid customers will be communicated about their coverage via mail or text message, which may be a problem if you have changed addresses or phone numbers since 2020.
“It’s really important for us that we have up to date contact information for people,” Leieritz says.
All states have insurance markets where people who lose Medicaid can buy new coverage with help from different resources created by the Affordable Care Act which can be found at the federal government’s healthcare.gov
“We’ve also seen some national studies that estimate that about half of the people who will no longer be eligible for Medicaid through this process, about half of those individuals have an employer sponsored insurance option as well,” Leieritz says.
There are other options aside from marketplace plans. Benefit Concepts President, Sara DeBiasi, says is so important that her company, a Lowcountry health insurance brokerage, is offering free phone appointments to help people find resources.
“Pick up the phone and talk to somebody in real time. Google and healthcare.gov are great resources, but you will be inundated with information and vocabulary that you’ve probably never heard of before,” DeBiasi says. “Talk to somebody and just try to learn from someone. It takes a couple of minutes to talk and see what someone might guide you towards.”
Trying to locate or determine health insurance if are losing Medicaid coverage can sometimes be stressful and overwhelming.
“For many people, they’ve never had to think about picking out a plan or even doing anything to do with insurance,” DeBiasi says. “If you’re 20 but you should have aged off Medicaid at 19, now you’re going to lose Medicaid and you got to do something about it.”
The South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services says to find out if you are still eligible for Medicaid, check apply.scdhhs.gov.
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