During the pandemic, the federal government suspended Medicaid eligibility requirements, meaning anyone who applied could receive state health insurance.
Starting April 1, participants will be required once again to renew annually and provide information like income and number of family members.
“It’s going back to how things were before COVID. The blanket eligibility is coming to an end,” said San Juan County Medical Director Joshua Corsa, MD. “It’s not that anyone is going to lose their benefits automatically. You just have to re-apply like you did before.”
State-wide, approximately 1.9 million people have Medicaid, or Apple Health as it’s called in Washington state. San Juan County has the lowest number of Apple Health recipients with 3,852 residents enrolled.
Not all current subscribers will be up for renewal on April 1, but those who are will receive paperwork to answer questions about annual income, household members and more. The renewal process usually happens every year, typically on the date of members’ original enrollment date.
According to a story in the Seattle Times, some will be automatically reenrolled because their income and citizenship status can be confirmed through federal and state verification systems. But all members are still encouraged to confirm their contact information is up to date at https://www.wahealthplanfinder.org/ so that the renewal paperwork is received. Members will have 60 days to renew their coverage.
Corsa urged islanders not to panic.
“If you qualified before, you’ll qualify now,” he said. “And it’s still going to be affordable even if you are in that grey zone where you make too much for Medicaid but not enough for private insurance.”
According to the Times’ story, although the state’s open enrollment period ended in January, anyone who loses Apple Health this year can apply for another state plan during a special 60-day enrollment period. Corsa said there are some options that are only $10 a month.
“Based on what we understand from the Washington State Health Care Authority, Apple Health clients will not be losing their coverage on April 1,” according to Jessica Nye, San Juan County Community Health Services Manager. “HCA is planning to resume normal operations on April 1, 2023 and clients will be receiving renewal notices prior to the end of their certification period based on their renewal date. Across the state, it sounds like around 300,000 clients may be affected during the 12-month redetermination period, but clients will have the opportunity to renew their coverage prior to any closure or transition of coverage. Apple Health clients should be sure to update their contact information, watch for renewal notices and take timely action to keep their coverage.”
If you need assistance navigating the state health insurance, call the Joyce L. Sobel Family Resource Center on San Juan Island at 360-378-5256; Orcas Community Resource Center at 360-376-3184; and the Lopez Island Family Resource Center at 360-468-4117.