By Kennan Wethington
President, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Kentucky
When Covid-19 hit three years ago, the federal government responded with a series of actions made possible by declaring a Public Health Emergency, also called the PHE. One of these actions was to freeze a process called Medicaid renewal, allowing Medicaid members to remain in their plans regardless of status or eligibility changes. That will all change in the coming weeks.
260,000 Kentuckians Could Lose Coverage: Recent federal legislation ended continuous enrollment in Medicaid, allowing renewals to begin on April 1. As a result, the extended health coverage for some on Medicaid will end, with disenrollments expected as soon as June 1. Here in the commonwealth, up to 260,000 people 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. With Medicaid renewal resuming, now is the time to begin preparing.
Start planning now: Here’s a checklist for all Medicaid beneficiaries to get ready for Medicaid renewal:
1) Make sure Kentucky’s Department for Medicaid Services has your current contact information by visiting kynect.ky.gov or call kynect at 855-4KYNECT (855-459-6328)
2) Watch closely for letters and information from Kentucky Medicaid and respond to them quickly.
3) Visit the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange at khbe.ky.gov/Enrollment/Pages/PHEUnwinding.aspx for help understanding Medicaid eligibility changes.
4) Even if you still qualify for coverage, you may receive renewal instructions from Kentucky Medicaid. Make sure to follow instructions carefully.
5) 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 Kentuckians will 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 health plan through the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange, is likely the best choice for health coverage.
There are options 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. Two helpful sources are:
- The Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange, at khbe.ky.gov, is full of information, resources, agents, and health coverage guides called kynectors who can answer questions and help you understand your coverage options.
- HealthCare.gov is another warehouse of information, quick start guides as well as connections to healthcare navigators and brokers in each community.
All these information tools, agencies, and surprisingly affordable health plan options work together, making sure no one falls through the gaps.
Health care can still be affordable and equitable: The Affordable Care Act 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, prescription drugs and pediatric services, 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.
Let’s stick together, Kentucky: More than ever, the last three years taught us that health is a group effort, and that equitable, affordable access to healthcare is vital to our physical, mental, and financial well-being. We learned that our health is interconnected not just to each other as Kentuckians, but also to our commonwealth’s entire economy. We’re at a pivotal moment, let’s not lose the momentum we’ve gained. If you’re impacted by Medicaid renewals, please start preparing now to keep you and your family protected with health coverage that works for you.