Currently, many of us are facing uncertainty—both economically, in terms of work and retirement and medically, with rising insurance rates, questions about Obama’s health care bill, and the dubious future of Medicare. Recently, Ohio Governor John Kasich introduced a proposal that could see more people relying on Medicaid for health insurance. Benjamin Lanka relays some important details in “Proposal May Put More Ohio Workers on Medicaid.”
Governor John Kasich has proposed, as part of the national Affordable Care Act, that Medicaid be expanded to cover all Ohioans making as much as 138% of the poverty line, according to the article. If this were to go into effect, many companies in Ohio would find employees with Medicaid on their rosters. There is some debate over why the number of individuals on Medicaid would increase under this proposal. Would individuals with private health insurance move over to Medicaid because they are now eligible and it is a cheaper option?
Eric Seiber, an assistant professor of health services management and policy at the Ohio State University College of Public Health, doesn’t think so; he says, “Most people join Medicaid because they are unemployed, work for a company that doesn’t offer health insurance, or can’t afford their company’s insurance.” If he’s correct, this means that the number of individuals on Medicaid in Ohio would increase under Kasich’s proposal simply because the people who had previously fallen into the gap between private health insurance and Medicaid would now be covered.
In fact, Seiber may have the numbers on his side. A study he co-authored found that last year (2012), only 2.6% of adults on Medicaid had voluntarily switched over from private health insurance coverage.
Another concern among some is that companies would try to conserve money by getting their employees to switch over to government insurance. According to Benjamin Lanka, under the Affordable Care Act, companies may be fined if their insurance is deemed unaffordable; however, they don’t face any type of penalty if employees are eligible for Medicaid. This has some believing that companies will be toting Medicaid as their insurance plan.
Others say that helping companies eliminate the penalty (for unaffordable insurance) is vital to the continued well-being of Ohio businesses. Keith Lake, vice president of government affairs for the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, says, “A recent study showed Ohio Companies could face penalties between $55 million and $88 million if Medicaid isn’t expanded because of fines of as much as $3,000 per employee based on health insurance availability.”