Millions Of Lower-Income People Expected To Shift Between Exchanges And Medicaid

While government officials have spent months scrambling to fix the federal health law's botched rollout, another issue is looming that could create new headaches for states, health plans and patients.

While government officials have spent months scrambling to fix the federal health law’s botched rollout, another issue is looming that could create new headaches for states, health plans — and patients.

In 2014, millions of people are expected to shift between the health exchanges and Medicaid, as their income fluctuates over the year. That could be costly for states and insurance companies, and patients could wind up having gaps in coverage or having to switch health plans or doctors.

The process — called “churning” — is common in Medicaid, the state-federal program for the poor and disabled. Typically, people lose Medicaid eligibility after their income spikes temporarily, such as when they get a seasonal job or pick up extra hours at certain times of the year. They re-enroll when their income drops.

Until now, people who churn out of Medicaid because of an income bump often wound up uninsured because they can’t afford private insurance. Starting this month under the Affordable Care Act, many will become eligible for insurance and subsidies through the exchanges.

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Source: Kaiser Health News