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Ohio Medicaid Expansion Gets Underway, But Numbers Can Confuse

Thursday, February 13, 2014 at 4:19 PM

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Rachel Rosen DeGolia helps a Cuyahoga County man sign up for healthcare. (Sarah Jane Tribble / ideastream)

Last month, 23,000 people who were newly eligible for Medicaid in Ohio enrolled in the program. That’s after Ohio Gov. John Kasich decided to expand Medicaid to cover more low-income people using Affordable Care Act funds. But as Lewis Wallace reports from Ohio Public Radio member station WYSO, Medicaid can be tricky to quantify.

At the Montgomery County Job Center’s health care room, the people coming in are a mix. Some have been on and off Medicaid, and some are signing up for subsidized care for the first time.

Steve and Tina Thompson are in that first group.

“We’re trying to get something straightened out that was lost in the shuffle,” Steve said.

“We had Medicaid and they cancelled it,” Tina added.

The Thompsons aren’t clear on what happened. In any case, now they’re back to re-enroll. But not without some trouble…

“I went to get my medicine the other day and it was almost $500,” Tina said. “Couldn’t get it. And then I’m due for surgery in two months and can’t get it until I get my insurance.”

The experience of going on Medicaid insurance, and off, and on again is so common, experts have a name for it: churning.

It usually happens because of eligibility changes—a change in income or family status, or a new job, for example.

But it means total Medicaid enrollment numbers constantly go up and down. And the numbers of newly eligible people who’ve signed up are actually pretty low compared to that total number of Ohioans on Medicaid—2.4 million, or one in five.

People without health insurance can check their eligibility on benefits.ohio.gov.

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Government/Politics, Health

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