Issues in health reform: How changes in eligibility may move millions back and forth between medicaid and insurance exchanges
The Affordable Care Act will extend health insurance coverage by both expanding Medicaid eligibility and offering premium subsidies for the purchase of private health insurance through State health insurance exchanges. But by definition, eligibility for these programs is sensitive to income and can change over time with fluctuating income and changes in family composition. The law specifies no minimum enrollment period, and subsidy levels will also change as income rises and falls. Using national survey data, the authors estimate that within six months, more than 35 percent of all adults with family incomes below 200 percent of the Federal poverty level will experience a shift in eligibility from Medicaid to an insurance exchange, or the reverse; within a year, 50 percent, or 28 million, will. To minimize the effect on continuity and quality of care, States and the Federal Government should adopt strategies to reduce the frequency of coverage transitions and to mitigate the disruptions caused by those transitions. Options include establishing a minimum guaranteed eligibility period and "dually certifying" some plans to serve both Medicaid and exchange enrollees.
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