Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of people across the country have been continuously covered by Medicaid due to federal requirements during the public health emergency (PHE). This access to Medicaid has allowed individuals, families, older adults and children to maintain insurance coverage throughout the pandemic and has provided critical healthcare protections to more than 2 million children and vulnerable adults in Washington alone.
With the end of the federal mandate requiring states to keep people enrolled in Medicaid during the PHE, an estimated 300,000 individuals covered by Apple Health, Washington’s Medicaid program, need to update their Medicaid information for themselves or their children to ensure they have continued healthcare coverage, either through Apple Health or other insurance options.
Many people will remain eligible for Apple Health coverage, however, the renewal process can take time, so individuals should take action now by visiting wahealthplanfinder.org to ensure that they do not lose their healthcare coverage.
“Everyone who is currently covered by Apple Health must check their eligibility and determine if they need to take action to maintain their coverage,” said Keith Payet, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Washington. “We all have an important role to play in ensuring those covered by Medicaid are aware of the steps they need to take to maintain access to continuous healthcare coverage.”
Healthcare providers, community organizations and non-profits that support individuals on Medicaid are uniquely positioned to help educate people on the importance of the renewal process and walk them through it.
Federally qualified health centers across the state are assisting members with updating their information online and over the phone, providing English and Spanish informational fliers, and giving people access to the Internet, computers, and phones to help those at risk to renew their coverage. These organizations are committed to removing barriers and providing members with health navigation to ensure uninterrupted access to quality care through continuous coverage, especially for those with complex medical and behavioral conditions.
While Medicaid renewals are not new, the process may be new for many due to the end of the continuous enrollment requirement. Organizations are working together to educate individuals in Washington and help them maintain access to healthcare coverage.
Routine care remains foundational for better health
Regular doctor visits allow individuals to obtain preventive care, critical screenings and the services needed to achieve their best health.
For both children and adults, healthcare delays may mean missed opportunities to better manage chronic conditions, including access to medications, receive timely routine vaccinations or diagnose new conditions, which all could negatively impact a person’s long-term health and well-being.
“It is critical that we bring awareness to the redeterminations process under Apple Health, as well as other coverage options available to ensure the people of Washington are able to obtain the routine care they need,” said Payet.
How to stay covered
In Washington, the Medicaid program is provided through Apple Health. Individuals can renew their coverage online at wahealthplanfinder.org.
But not everyone has access to the Internet. In fact, according to the US Census Bureau, nearly 10 percent of households in Washington lack Internet access at home. The state provides a phone number that people to reach out to update their address and have renewal paperwork mailed to them: 1-855-923-4633.
People who don’t qualify for Medicaid may find that private insurance available through Washington Healthplanfinder is more affordable than they expected. Options are available at wahealthplanfinder.org or by calling (800) 318-2596.