Thousands of Coloradans Eligible for Medicaid Losing Health Insurance
Thursday, September 14, 2023
Colorado ranks 15th in the nation for the highest rate of people losing Medicaid health insurance after pandemic-era protections ended on March 31.
In July, of the nearly 70,000 Coloradans who lost coverage, 50,000 were still eligible - according to state data.
Simon Smith - president and CEO of Clinica Family Health - said many lost coverage, not because they're earning too much money to qualify, but for procedural reasons.
They didn't know they needed to re-enroll, or didn't fill out a form correctly.
"There's a lot of individuals across Colorado who may be losing their Medicaid who may still be eligible for Medicaid, but are being dis-enrolled because of those processes," said Smith. "That's really concerning."
Many people signed up for Medicaid after they lost their jobs and employer-sponsored coverage, and were automatically re-enrolled during the public health emergency.
Proponents argue most people are now back at work, and stopping auto renewals will save taxpayer dollars by bringing enrollment back to pre-pandemic levels.
Coloradans can apply for or keep their health coverage at 'HealthFirstColorado.com.'
People without insurance tend to avoid preventative appointments to save money, and Smith noted that many put off seeking care until a condition becomes a crisis and they end up in the emergency room - the most expensive form of care.
Those higher costs end up being shared across the entire health care system.
"As uninsured rates rise, and uncompensated care rises, other insurance carrier's rates go up," said Smith. "There's a systemic impact associated with people losing their insurance."
Clinica - which serves all patients regardless of their ability to pay - has already lost $500,000, and is set to lose $2 million this year compared to revenues before Coloradans started being dropped from Medicaid.
Smith said those losses, combined with rising costs, makes it harder for community health centers that primarily serve Medicaid patients and the uninsured to keep their doors open.
"That's a real danger, and that's a danger that we are facing here in Colorado," said Smith. "If the balance of revenues and the balance of insured patients starts to decline, it has real impacts for community health centers' ability to continue to provide services."
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