By Christina Clem
If you’re enrolled in Apple Health, watch your mailbox closely. Why? Because for the first time in more than three years, Washingtonians and all Americans on Medicaid must show they still qualify for the program.
Before March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic erupted, Medicaid recipients had to fill out forms every year to demonstrate they still qualified. But that requirement was suspended as part of coronavirus relief that went into effect as unemployment soared and millions of Americans lost their jobs.
Pre-pandemic rules are now back in place, and federal officials estimate that more than 2.5 million older adults nationwide will lose their Medicaid benefits, including roughly 30,000 here in Washington when the recertification process is complete. Apple Health, the state’s Medicaid program, currently has over 2 million enrollees, including 300,000 over age 50.
People in their 50s and 60s are more likely than those who are younger to manage the care of a chronic health condition. Loss of their healthcare coverage could be devastating, which is why the recertification process is so important. However, there are steps that Washingtonians on Apple Health can take to make the process easier.As unsettling as this may be, especially for Medicaid recipients who haven’t been through this before, there are steps you can take that will help.
Update your contact information.
With Apple Health, you have 30 days from when your contact details have changed to update information like your home address, phone number, and e-mail address. You can call the Washington Healthplanfinder Customer Support Center at 1-855-923-4633.
Keep an eye on your mail.
All states must send letters to Medicaid recipients letting them know how to renew their coverage or if the state believes they no longer qualify. Complete any included forms and return them right away. Pay close attention to the instructions. Because every state runs its own Medicaid program, there is no one-size-fits-all way this process will work. The rules for Washington could differ from those for your family and friends in neighboring states. States have until June 2024 to complete this process, so watch for that letter.
If you are told you are losing coverage, you do have options:
- You can reapply to see if you still qualify.
- You can get coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, and you may qualify for subsidies to help lower your costs. Visit www.wahealthplanfinder.org or call 1-800-562-3022 for more information about Marketplace coverage.
- Your employer may offer health care coverage.
AARP Washington is committed to helping older people keep their Medicaid coverage. We will continue to monitor Washington’s process and actions to help minimize the number of people who lose health coverage and help those folks connect with other low-cost options.
Christina Clem is a communications analyst for AARP Washington.