In Tennessee, Tightened Access to Medicaid means Tough Choices

Healthcare is a luxury to some, especially in rural America. Basic medical care is unaffordable to those without adequate health insurance. Casey Britton, a TN resident, filed a 13-page Medicaid application and faxed it to the state before the March 31st deadline, but she received a notice on April 30th informing her that she no longer qualified. This also meant her two young sons, ages 2 and 5, would lose access to medical care.

32 states have expanded Medicaid after passage of the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare. Virginia just voted to expand coverage, meaning only 17 states have refused to offer additional assistance to low-income individuals.

Tennessee went in the opposite direction and established work requirements for Medicaid recipients. The state follows in the foot steps of Indiana, Arkansas, and Kentucky. Governor Bill Haslam signed the bill, which requires adults with children under six to work, attend school, or volunteer part-time to continue Medicaid coverage. This is yet another move to restrict access to Medicaid.

Britton notes that qualifying for Medicaid is one hurdle, but accessing care is another. The rural area she lives in doesn’t have a pediatrician, meaning she has to drive 60 miles or use a walk-in clinic for her and her family’s healthcare needs. She takes care of her young children while her husband works in Nashville. She anticipates having more free time to find a job with her kids in school, but opportunities are limited where she lives.

The Trump administration supports work requirements for Medicaid, stating that people who work will get out of poverty and be healthier as a result. Advocates for health care are vehemently opposed and say that the move will lead adults to ignore chronic health conditions, skip preventative care, and result in more visits to the emergency room.

In 2016, 14.1 million children lived in poverty across the country. The percent of children in poverty in rural areas is higher than urban areas, with 24 and 19 percent respectively. The gap increased during the Great Recession and continues to widen, especially for single-parent homes and African-American children. In 2017, nearly 1.5 million children in TN were enrolled in Medicaid.

The Tennesee Justice Center predicts that over 480,000 low-income individuals could lose access to Medicaid under the new work requirements. The Kaiser Family Foundation reported that 60 percent of the 24.6 million Medicaid recipients across the country work at least part-time. Medicaid work requirements are set to go into effect in Indiana, Kentucky, New Hampshire, and Arkansas. There are 1.2 million residents receiving Medicare in Tennessee as of 2015.

Perry County, where Britton resides, has been struck by poverty as businesses re-located along the interstate, reducing job opportunities and growth. The Great Recession hit the county with a 29.8 percent unemployment rate.

It has since recovered and sits at 4.2 percent, but many residents left the area for Memphis or Nashville to get jobs. Jobs that are left pay low and don’t offer benefits such as health insurance. Rural poverty is a serious issue, notes Timothy McBride from the Center for Health Economics and Poverty at Washington University in St. Louis.

Lack of access to healthcare is spurred by the lack of reliable public transportation. Residents rely on friends and family members. Gas costs add up quickly, and fares can be exorbitant for some trips. Britton’s husband drives 90 miles one way to get to work, and getting to school by bus for the children takes an hour.

Policymakers ignore the reality of rural poverty and how these requirements are not compatible with daily living. Parents, such as Britton, go without to ensure their children are taken care of first.

Carlos Lopez is the director for Disabled Friends. He also handles the department of disability resources for MedicareFAQ, a learning resource center for all seniors and Medicare beneficiaries.

Ohio Medicare Information

There’s a variety of Ohio Medicare Supplement insurance plans that will meet your specific healthcare needs that are available in the state. By covering the costs that traditional Medicare doesn’t, these plans will save you money. Acceptance into the plan of your choice is always guaranteed as long as you apply during your Initial Enrollment Period. Plus, you can keep the doctors and hospitals that you’ve built a relationship with as long as they accept Medicare.

Ohio Medicare Supplement Plans

You must have Medicare Part A and B (Original Medicare) to apply for Ohio Medicare Supplemental insurance plans, also referred to as “Medigap.” Ohio Medigap plans cover only one person, so spouses must purchase two separate policies. Supplement plans are offered by private insurance companies that offer products in your area. The policies do not cover long-term care, vision, dental, prescription drugs, hearing aids, or private nursing.

Ohio Medicare Supplement for Under 65

Certain states make it mandatory for a carrier to offer supplement plans to those under 65 years of age, Ohio is not one of them. However, some carriers do still offer Ohio Medicare Supplement for Under 65, please contact one of our licensed Medicare Supplement agents in Ohio for more info.

When and How to Enroll in Ohio Medicare Supplements

You can apply for Ohio Medicare Supplements once you’re enrolled in Medicare Part B & are 65+ years old. The best time to enroll is during the sixth month Initial Enrollment Period, most commonly known as Open Enrollment Period. This period begins on the first day of the month that a Medicare recipient is at least 65 years old and already enrolled in Part B of Medicare. During this time, a recipient can enroll in a supplement plan without having their medical background prevent them from getting approved for coverage.

You can still enroll after this time period, but you may have to complete the medical underwriting process prior to being approved. A carrier could charge a higher premium as well if you don’t apply during your OEP.

If you’re still working, you can delay your Medicare Part B coverage without a penalty. Your employer sponsored healthcare plan will pay first in that case, followed by Original Medicare, followed by your Ohio Medicare Supplement plan policy.

With so many options available, the task of selecting the best Ohio Medicare Supplement insurance plans that suite your needs can be difficult and time consuming. If you need help, just call our team of Medicare agents. Our services are 100 percent free and there is NO obligation to sign up!

Costs for Coverage

Your costs may vary depending on the plan selected, your age, gender, zip code, and the private insurance company you choose. Medical Supplement Plans include Plans F through N. In addition to hospitalization and preventative care, some of the policies include skilled nursing facility coinsurance and foreign travel emergency coverage. The state of Ohio Medicare Supplement plans also have different out of pocket limits.

If you currently have Medicare Advantage, each year you have an opportunity to switch to Original Medicare and can then purchase a Medicare Supplement policy. Again, knowing the dates is important, missing important dates can prevent you from receiving the care that you need at the price you deserve.

How to Maximize Benefits

To maximize benefits you would most likely be enrolled in Original Medicare, a Medicare drug plan as well as a Ohio Medicare Supplement plan. By combining these 3 healthcare plans, instead of getting a Medicare Advantage policy, you can get all the gaps in coverage paid for to give you piece of mind.

Carlos Lopez is the director for Disabled Friends. He also handles the department of disability resources for MedicareFAQ, a learning resource center for all seniors and Medicare beneficiaries.