Are you still covered by Ohio Medicaid? Check to be sure.
This piece was originally published by Cleveland.com; it is reposted here with permission.
The past few years have proven -- in case anyone was still in doubt -- that helping people get health care is an essential function of our government.
By expanding access to Medicaid during the pandemic, the federal government saved lives. It did so in part by providing additional funding for states to maintain continuous coverage, rather than requiring people to prove their eligibility each year.
Congress has allowed that policy to end, and states have begun dropping people from the coverage they have counted on for years.
As a result, Ohioans face what many experts consider to be the most significant change to the healthcare landscape since the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010.
The state is removing people who no longer qualify for Medicaid, which primarily covers children, people with low incomes and people who have disabilities. However, the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) recently found that, across all states with available data, 72 percent of all people disenrolled had their coverage terminated for procedural reasons -- like not returning a phone call or paperwork. This process will continue for the rest of the year and will likely result in many Ohioans losing critical healthcare coverage without realizing they’ve been removed.
While the Department of Medicaid is required to attempt contact twice, people who have recently moved, changed phone numbers or simply do not know how to respond may be left out of the process.
It’s also worth noting that people have not been required to renew their Medicaid coverage for three years; many may have simply forgotten.
For many Ohioans, this is a major problem. Studies have shown that people with Medicaid have better access to care and preventative services than those without health insurance. Medicaid expansion has been linked to reduced mortality among adults ages 55-64.
Ohio’s Department of Medicaid is publicly tracking the disenrollment process county by county. In August alone, 34,239 Ohioans were removed from Medicaid -- not because they no longer qualified, but because they failed to respond to the department’s request for updated information.
In the Northeast Ohio region, Cuyahoga County had the largest number of “non-response closures” in August -- 4,681. Summit County had 1,339, Lorain County had 769 and Medina County had 280.
Ohioans currently enrolled in Medicaid should take steps to ensure that their information is up to date:
• Check the status of your coverage using the Ohio Benefits Self Service Portal at benefits.ohio.gov.
• Update your address on the Department of Medicaid website.
• For parents, it’s important to check on your child’s coverage as well, since some children may still qualify for coverage even when a parent does not.
• Check with your county’s Department of Job and Family Services, which often facilitates Medicaid services, to also make sure they have your updated information.
• Respond quickly to any requests for information sent by mail and be sure to complete the entire packet. That will help you and your family maintain healthcare coverage and prevent an unintended lapse.
Everyone should be able to get the health care they need. In Ohio, that’s not the case. Let’s at least make sure everyone who can access Medicaid does so.