Navigating Medicaid Coverage Changes: Proactive Steps for Hospitals and Patients 

By: Nick McLaughlin 

Last December, Congress passed legislation to begin decoupling Medicaid coverage protections under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) from the Public Health Emergency. This change has led to the end of health insurance protections, including continuous health insurance coverage from Medicaid. Millions of patients—and the community hospitals that serve them—have been left in an extremely vulnerable position.  

What This Means for Patients  

According to the most recent data from the Medicaid Enrollment and Unwinding Tracker by KFF, at least 22,352,000 Medicaid enrollees have lost their coverage to date. But many of those patients may still be eligible for Medicaid. KFF reports a substantial 69% of disenrollments are due to procedural—or paperwork—reasons such as outdated contact information or incomplete renewal packets. This means that many people have been left uninsured simply because of administrative issues, not because they no longer qualify for coverage based on income. These patients now need assistance to navigate the system and maintain affordable access to care. 

What This Means for Hospitals  

As more patients find themselves without health insurance, the need for proactive financial assistance program engagement to help vulnerable community members maintain affordable access to care has surged. Implementing patient-friendly online financial assistance applications is key to cost-effective patient engagement that helps patients get coverage for the services they need and receive the financial assistance discounts they qualify for on any remaining patient balances. By proactively identifying and assisting eligible individuals, hospitals can ensure their community members receive necessary care promptly, preventing minor issues from escalating into full-blown, high-cost emergencies. This approach supports patient health and well-being, allows patients to get the care they need without financial barriers and mitigates the rise in uncollectible debts, stabilizing the hospital’s financial health and creating a more sustainable system for all. 

Proactive Steps for Hospitals  

  1. Review and update your financial assistance policies to ensure you’re providing adequate support to uninsured and underinsured patients. 
  1. Develop partnerships with community organizations and other healthcare providers to help connect uninsured patients with resources for coverage and care. 
  1. Invest in technology solutions that can help identify and track patients who are at risk of losing coverage, and proactively reach out to them to help them maintain coverage or explore charity care options. 
  1. Make sure your financial assistance program is easily accessible and efficient in connecting eligible patients to the discounts they need to maintain affordable access to care at your facility. 
  1. Leverage an online financial assistance platform to help you augment financial counseling efforts.  
  1. Prepare an effective communication strategy to help educate patients and the community on the impacts of the change in the coverage and your role in helping them access the care they need. 

Looking Ahead  

As we move forward, it’s crucial that hospitals and patients proactively engage with financial assistance resources to ensure that no one is left without necessary care due to administrative changes in coverage. And while proactive screening may seem like an impossible endeavor, there are external partners and tech solutions that can lighten the burden. It’s critical that hospitals take measures to ensure affordable care remains available for all who need it. 

Breez Health offers a digital technology tool that helps patients quickly and seamlessly see if they qualify for Financial Assistance and complete applications online. It can also be used to augment financial counseling efforts, routing patients to the resources they need to access or maintain coverage, ensuring providers are reimbursed for the care they receive without hiring more staff. 

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