Missed opportunities impede efforts to reach uninsured

Even amid widespread efforts to enroll individuals in health coverage, organizations and government agencies are still missing major opportunities to reach the remaining uninsured. 

For one, the Internal Revenue Service doesn't tell tax filers if they qualify for Medicaid or subsidies to buy coverage on the insurance exchanges, according to an article from Kaiser Health News.

About half of uninsured people who are in families that receive the earned income tax credit are eligible for significant financial assistance, the article says. A little more than 4 million are Medicaid-eligible, and 1.1 million could receive subsidies and cost-sharing reductions on the Affordable Care Act exchanges.

Along similar lines, a new study published in the International Journal for Equity in Health reveals that only 49 percent of parents are aware that their uninsured child was eligible for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program.

Because of the lack of knowledge about subsidy qualifications, the study said uninsured children face impaired access to care and unmet healthcare needs, which causes significant family financial burdens. One way to solve the awareness issue, according to companion study published in Pediatrics, is to pair parent mentors who have knowledge of health coverage enrollment with families with uninsured children.

Many states also are taking steps to reach out to those eligible for assiance, according to KHN. For example, both New Jersey and Maryland run checks with state income filings to see if residents are Medicaid eligible, and other states send invitations to food stamp participants to sign up for Medicaid. The IRS tells tax preparers to inform people about their insurance option, but the article points out that may not be enough because many people file their own taxes.

However, the IRS does face hurdles when informing people of their subsidy options. For example, many adults who are eligible for the earned income tax credit may not qualify for Medicaid in states that haven't expanded the program's eligibility, KHN says. 

To learn more:
- read the KHN article
- here is the IJEH study 
- check out the Pediatrics study

Related Articles:
1.8 million Americans could lose subsidized coverage due to tax-filing issues
Many remaining uninsured qualify for Medicaid or coverage subsidies
Study offers look at who is most likely to enroll in ACA coverage
Open enrollment 2016: Best practices and lessons learned [Special Report]

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