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Need new health insurance NOW?

If you experience certain life changes, you don’t have to wait for Open Enrollment in November to enroll in affordable health coverage on healthcare.gov or your state’s marketplace. You have 60 days after the following events to apply for a Special Enrollment Period and enroll:

• Moving to a new zip code or county
• Getting married or divorced
• Having a baby, adopting or becoming a foster parent
• Becoming a U.S. citizen or getting a green card

You have 60 days before or after the following to enroll: 

• Losing your health insurance from your job
• Turning 26 and aging off your parent’s health plan

And if you are experiencing domestic violence and want to apply for your own health plan, you can do so at any time.

Learn more about Special Enrollment Periods at healthcare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596.

 

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Thursday
Apr042019

Protect Medicaid to protect women and families!

Highlighting the importance of Medicaid for women and families

April is Medicaid Awareness month! Every week this month we’ll highlight the importance of Medicaid to women and our families and provide updates on the continuing fight to save Medicaid from conservative efforts to dismantle it.

First enacted in 1965, with expansions over time, Medicaid has become a lifeline for women and families. Women live in poverty at higher rates than men do and are much less likely than men to have employer-sponsored insurance in their own names. Women with private health insurance are at greater risk than men of losing it following divorce or changes in the family coverage offered by their spouse’s employer.Unsurprisingly, then, women make up a majority of the adult Medicaid population, and it is especially important for women of color. 

As of 2014 (the most recent year for national enrollment data), Medicaid covered 25 million women age 19 and older. (The number is likely higher now that additional states have used the Affordable Care Act to expand their Medicaid programs to cover more adults since then.)

Medicaid and reproductive health

Approximately two-thirds of women with Medicaid are in their reproductive years (age 19 to 49). Medicaid covers critical reproductive health care services, such as family planning and contraception, prenatal care, childbirth, and postpartum care. Women cannot be charged out of pocket costs for reproductive health services and the law guarantees them “free choice of provider” to see the qualified health care provider of their choosing.

Nearly half of all pregnant people get their prenatal care through Medicaid, which also covers almost half of all births in the U.S. Medicaid also helps new parents struggling with postpartum depression. However, in those 14 states that haven’t expanded Medicaid  under the authority of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), many women lose their Medicaid coverage 60 days after giving birth. In DC and the 36 states that have expanded their Medicaid programs, most women are able to retain their coverage, ensuring better access to care.

Recently, WV FREE, our Charleston-based RWV regional coordinator, helped successfully advocate for the passage of SB 564, which expands Medicaid and CHIP coverage for pregnant women between 185 percent and 300 percent of the federal poverty level, and includes prenatal care, delivery and 60 days postpartum care.  According to the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, over 24,000 women age 19 to 44 in the state did not have health insurance in 2017. Among new mothers in that age range, an estimated 3 percent did not have health insurance, making the cost of childbirth out of reach for many. The average cost of childbirth in West Virginia ranges from $10,000 for a vaginal birth, and $14,000 for a C-section, combined with $20,000 for pre- and postnatal care, West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy reports.

Recognizing the importance of postpartum Medicaid coverage to the health and well-being of mothers and babies, some of our RWV regional coordinators – including New Jersey Citizen Action, EverThrive Illinois and Northwest Health Law Advocates  – have been supporting state efforts to extend postpartum full-scope Medicaid coverage to 12 months in their states. 

Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) together cover 35 million children. Almost half of all young children, ages three and below, are covered by Medicaid.

Who else needs Medicaid? Older women

Another 16% of women with Medicaid coverage are 65 and older. Women live longer than men and enter their senior years with fewer financial resources. While Medicare and most private health insurance does not cover the cost of long-term care, including nursing home care, Medicaid does, making it particularly critical for older women. 

Perhaps most importantly, Medicaid works! As the Kaiser Family Foundation noted, “A large body of research shows that Medicaid beneficiaries have far better access to care than the uninsured and are less likely to postpone or go without needed care due to cost. Moreover, rates of access to care and satisfaction with care among Medicaid enrollees are comparable to rates for people with private insurance.” 

Finally, while Medicaid is essential for public health, it also helps lift millions of families out of poverty by lowering their health care costs, reducing their debt burden, and keeping them healthy for work and school. A 2017 study published in Health Affairs concluded that Medicaid is one of the most effective anti-poverty programs.

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