Three years ago, the federal government declared a Public Health Emergency (PHE) in response to COVID-19 that provided critical support and health care for families. During the PHE, nearly all Medicaid members were able to stay enrolled in their plans regardless of changes in eligibility or status. That’s about to change.
Hundreds of thousands of Ohioans could be impacted
Recent federal legislation separated Medicaid renewals from the PHE starting on April 1. As a result, the extended health coverage for some on Medicaid will end as renewals resume, with disenrollments expected as soon as May 1. Hundreds of thousands of people here in Ohio and as many as 18 million across the country could be affected.
The good news for those losing Medicaid coverage is that new subsidies may make Marketplace health plans more affordable than ever. In addition, many helpful resources are available to guide people to the coverage and support they need. But with Medicaid renewal resuming, now is the time to begin preparing.
Start planning now
Here’s how all Medicaid beneficiaries can get ready for Medicaid renewal:
Make sure the Ohio Department of Medicaid has your current contact information by visiting www.Medicaid.ohio.gov or call their hotline at 844-640-6446.
Watch for and respond to letters and information from Ohio Medicaid.
Visit Medicaid.gov to see if you still qualify for Medicaid coverage.
Even if you still qualify for coverage, you may receive renewal instructions from Ohio Medicaid. Make sure to follow instructions carefully.
If you don’t qualify, start making plans now to find affordable health plans through your employer or the Marketplace. Don’t let your coverage lapse.
A change of employment will be a common reason many Ohioans may no longer qualify for Medicaid plans. The next step for people in this situation is to talk to their employer to determine if they are eligible for employer-sponsored health benefits. If employer-based health plans are not an option, an Affordable Care Act (ACA) health plan through the Ohio Marketplace is likely the best choice for health coverage.
Affordable health coverage if you lose Medicaid
If you no longer qualify for Medicaid coverage and employer-sponsored plans are not an option, understanding health coverage choices available through the Health Insurance Marketplace and how to enroll can take some time to sort out. That’s where we come in – those of us in the community dedicated to connecting people to quality, affordable health care.
www.GetCoveredOhio.org is a collaborative effort led by the Ohio Association of Foodbanks offering free, unbiased information for Ohioans exploring their health insurance options. They have set up a hotline at 833-NAV-4INS 833-628-4467 that is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. www.HealthCare.gov is full of information, quick start guides as well as connections to healthcare navigators and brokers in each community. Finally, the health plan websites, such as Anthem.com/staycovered, offer simple, easy-to-use tools to check plan options, costs, and eligibility.
All these information tools, agencies, and surprisingly affordable health plan options work together, making sure no one falls through the gaps.
Keeping health care affordable and equitable
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) led to the creation of health plans that go beyond basic coverage, yet remain affordable even for those who don’t qualify for Medicaid and lack access to employer-sponsored coverage. Marketplace plans cover essential health benefits, including emergency services and prescription drugs, and they offer no cost preventive care. This means consumers pay nothing for important services such as regular wellness visits, immunizations and screenings. These services are key to avoiding and managing serious health conditions.
Marketplace plans are often more affordable than ever because federal subsidies have been expanded through 2025 to help keep costs down for consumers. Most people covered by these plans receive a federal subsidy, and in fact, some families that qualify for subsidies will pay nothing for coverage. If you did not previously qualify for subsidies, you may now be eligible.
All of us together
The pandemic underscored the fact that health and access to quality, affordable health care impacts everyone. Our own health is connected to those around us, and not just our physical health. Our financial, emotional and spiritual health are interwoven into the community around us. Let’s keep up the momentum we’ve gained over the last three years to raise awareness of the coming Medicaid renewals and provide guidance as people move to new health care options.
Jane Peterson is president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Ohio.