Millions of Americans will lose coverage in 2023. How can providers help patients to bridge the gap?
As the COVID Public Health Emergency (PHE) comes to a close, millions of Americans face losing healthcare coverage. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act signed into law March 2020 prohibited states from removing Medicaid beneficiaries during the PHE.
The $1.7 trillion omnibus bill contains a provision that will eliminate the Medicaid coverage extensions in April 2023. As a result, many individuals who were previously eligible for Medicaid may no longer meet the income requirements. The Urban Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation project 18 million people currently covered by Medicaid will lose eligibility. Many will transition to other forms of healthcare coverage but an estimated 3.8M will become uninsured. This is a significant concern, as the end of the public health emergency coincides with the ongoing economic struggles caused by the pandemic. Many people are facing reduced income and inflation is on the rise, therefore the loss of Medicaid coverage could have devastating consequences for their ability to access healthcare.
While it is imperative that efforts be made to ensure that those who stand to lose Medicaid coverage are able to maintain their access to healthcare, this presents challenges for providers. There are a few strategies that providers can consider to help cope with this potential increase in uninsured patients:
Create a plan on how to identify patients who have lost or may lose coverage
Most patients aren’t aware of this assistance coming to an end so helping identify and educate them is important. Send out easily digestible information across various channels asking your patients to check on the status of their Medicaid coverage and when it is set to expire. Benefits verification at point of scheduling or service now becomes even more critical for your organization and patients.
Tap into patient assistance via philanthropic aid
Philanthropic aid programs are in place to help uninsured or underinsured patients pay for their care. These programs may be able to help offset the cost of care for those who lose their Medicaid coverage. Since most providers are understaffed, utilizing technology that automatically identifies and quickly enrolls patients into these programs is efficient and sometimes life-saving. These programs include state-based programs, manufacturer programs for medications, non-profit foundations and your very own foundation.
Partner with community organizations
Hospitals maybe able to work with community organizations, such as free clinics or non-profit organizations, to help provide care for uninsured patients. These partnerships can help ensure patients have access to the healthcare they need, even if they are unable to pay for it.
Overall, there are a number of strategies hospitals should consider addressing the anticipated increase in uninsured patients as the PHE comes to an end. By using these strategies, providers can help ensure that patients have access to the care they need, regardless of their ability to pay.