Up to 15 million Americans are at risk of losing their Medicaid coverage in coming weeks and months as the continuous enrollment program, which prevented states from removing individuals from Medicaid, came to an end on March 29.
Understanding the Impact of the Unwinding Process
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Medicaid enrollment has surged, reaching a historically high rate of 92% insured individuals. Enrollment in the program grew by 23.3 million from February 2020 to March 2023, largely thanks to the continuous enrollment program included in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), passed in March 2020.
However, as states begin the review process to verify Medicaid eligibility, hundreds of thousands of Americans are losing coverage. Data suggests that many people lost coverage due to procedural reasons, such as failing to return paperwork, implying that many individuals may still qualify for Medicaid but have lost their coverage.
For example, in Florida, nearly 250,000 people lost coverage in April, and 82% of them lost it for procedural reasons. Many of those affected are children, as Florida did not expand Medicaid to cover more low-income adults.
The federal government estimates that about seven million who are still eligible will lose coverage.
How Will Children Be Affected by Medicaid Cuts?
Children are among those significantly affected, as researchers estimate that over half of children in the United States were covered by Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) before the unwinding. Many children may lose coverage due to procedural reasons despite being eligible, leaving them with limited options for alternative coverage.
Looking Ahead and Planning for the Future
A recent poll found that 65% of Medicaid enrollees were unaware that states could remove them from the program if they didn't meet eligibility requirements or complete the renewal process. Additionally, about 1 in 4 Medicaid enrollees do not know where to find health care coverage if they lose Medicaid coverage.
While the unwinding of Medicaid coverage presents challenges, families can take proactive steps to navigate this transition successfully. It is important to stay informed, understand the process in your state, and seek assistance when needed. Exploring alternative insurance options and preparing necessary documentation can help ensure uninterrupted healthcare coverage for your family.