More than half of uninsured are eligible for financial help
While more than 600,000 Washington residents remain uninsured, new estimates suggest more than half of those who are uninsured are eligible for financial assistance.
A new report by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 57 percent of the state’s 621,000 uninsured residents are eligible for the state Medicaid program (Apple Health) or for tax credits to lower the cost of plans purchased on the health exchange.
An estimated 38 percent of uninsured Washington residents are eligible for Medicaid and another 19 percent are eligible for tax credits, according to the report.
The remaining 43 percent of uninsured residents are not eligible for financial assistance due to one of three reasons: they have an employer offered plan available, their income is too high or they are not a U.S. citizen, according to the report.
The Affordable Care Act extended Medicaid to nearly all non-elderly adults with incomes at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level ($27,724 for a family of three in 2015).
The ACA also established health exchanges where people can purchase plans and allowed for federal tax credits for people making up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level ($79,160 for a family of three in 2015).
Medicaid expansion, however, is optional for states. Twenty states have not implemented the expansion. In those states, some residents may fall into a “coverage gap” because they earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to qualify for tax credits.
Nationally, 32.3 million non-elderly people were uninsured at the beginning of 2015. The report estimates nearly half (15.7 million people or 49 percent) are eligible for financial assistance.
About 10 percent of the country’s uninsured fall into a “coverage gap” due to their state’s decision not to expand Medicaid and about 15 percent are undocumented immigrants who are ineligible for coverage, according to the report.
The remaining 27 percent of the country’s uninsured either have an employer plan available or their income is too high, according to the report.