Further highlighting why Medicaid planning and planning for health care expenses are important, a recent article in the New York Times reports that states could soon impose higher charges on Medicaid patients.
The hotly-contested 2010 health care law “extended Medicaid to many childless adults and others who were previously ineligible.” However, the Supreme Court stated that this extension was not a requirement but an option.
The Obama administration, in an effort to encourage states to extend Medicaid, said that state Medicaid officials can charge patients higher co-payments and premiums for a variety of services, including doctors’ services, prescription medication, and certain types of hospital care. A state’s ability to charge more for health care allows the state and federal governments to decrease their share—currently over half—of the cost. The administration said in the proposed rule that it was simplifying the complicated regulations that prevent states from charging Medicaid patients. According to the New York Times, “Under the proposal, a family of three with annual income of $30,000 could be required to pay $1,500 in premiums and co-payments.”
There are several possible problems related to the implementation of the law, by the administration’s own admission. One problem is that the administration has not yet found comprehensive data regarding how many people have employer-sponsored health insurance. Those who do not have employer-sponsored health insurance will be permitted to apply for federal subsidies for private insurance, while those who do have access to health insurance from employers will be ineligible. The subsidies can be used to purchase coverage in “insurance exchanges” starting in October so that people have the coverage required in January 2014.