The end of Medicaid’s continuous enrollment policy marks a massive shift in health care coverage similar to the Affordable Care Act’s first open enrollment period — and there’s a lot employers can do to help their affected employees through it.
This transition is happening because states paused assessments of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) during the pandemic, as required by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. That means people covered by Medicaid and CHIP could keep that health insurance even if their income or other circumstances changed during the pandemic.
With the states returning to normal operations, they will resume these assessments and will determine in the coming year whether each person receiving Medicaid is still eligible to do so, potentially causing many workers and their families to lose health insurance. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates as much as 14.2 million people can lose Medicaid coverage during the settlement period. However, the US Department of Health and Human Services estimates as much as 4 million of those people could get coverage through employer-sponsored health plans.
Employers can support their employees during the transition by helping them understand the benefits of maintaining health insurance and providing information on how to do so, through employer plans or other sources. Here are three ways employers can help employees get through this transition and maintain health insurance.
1. Spread the word
Raising awareness of upcoming Medicaid restatements, the process states use to ensure Medicaid enrollees remain eligible for Medicaid coverage, is vital for employees who may not be aware of the changes. By proactively communicating with employees, employers can demonstrate their commitment to employee well-being and promote a supportive work environment. Encouraging employees who may have Medicaid coverage to update their contact information with the State Medicaid Agency and look for a Medicaid renewal is a proactive way to help employees through this transition.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services communication tool kit is a valuable tool to help with messaging to employees. This will help you provide accurate and helpful information, reducing employee confusion and anxiety.
2. Flex your tender muscles
Offering flexible enrollment options for employees who are no longer eligible for Medicaid demonstrates a commitment to employee well-being and can help increase employee satisfaction and retention. By accepting the loss of Medicaid coverage as a reason to enroll in employer-sponsored insurance outside of election periods for annual coverage and giving employees more than the required 60 days to enroll, employers can alleviate some of the stress and uncertainty that workers may face during this transitional period. By offering enrollment flexibility if individuals and their dependents lose Medicaid coverage on different dates, it also helps employees feel supported and valued, which can lead to increased loyalty and productivity.
3. Help with the large coverage migration
Helping employees transition to other coverage options when they no longer qualify for Medicaid can lead to a healthier workforce and minimize disruptions in productivity caused by health problems. Remind employees that if they do not qualify for employer-sponsored insurance, they may be eligible for free or heavily subsidized health insurance through the ACA Marketplace, and direct them to healthcare.gov or their state-based Marketplace for extensive resources on available coverage options. Employers can also use this period to consider their own options for offering coverage to their workforce, whether through traditional employer plans or the lesser-known health care reimbursement options.
By supporting their employees during this transition, employers not only contribute to a healthier and more stable workforce, but also improve the well-being of employees and their families. A well-informed and assured workforce leads to increased productivity, satisfaction and loyalty, which are critical to long-term business success. Taking proactive measures and providing support during this time of coverage transitions demonstrates employee engagement, fostering a positive work environment and a robust, thriving business.