Access to Medical Care Decreases, but Some States’ Programs Still Open

Author: CFFPP . Date: June 1, 2012

The typical low-income noncustodial parent is not eligible for subsidized healthcare insurance, such as Medicaid or similar state-funded programs, in the large majority of states because such parents do not have a dependent child in their household. Practitioners working to find healthcare for noncustodial parents may want to consider the medical assistance programs that are accepting new enrollees in 17 states and the District of Columbia.

People who do not have health insurance are much more likely to have unmet health needs, and to not receive routine medical and dental checkups—and the problem has gotten much worse in the last ten years. The title of a new report from the Urban Institute bluntly sums it up:“Virtually Every State Experienced Deteriorating Access to Care for Adults over the Past Decade.”

Across the nation, about 48% of uninsured adults in 2010 reported they “were not able to see a doctor when needed due to cost.” In some states, the rate of unmet health needs among uninsured people was much higher, especially in the South (57% in Kentucky; 56% in Florida, Tennessee and Virginia; 55% in Georgia and West Virginia; 53% in Alabama; and 52% in Mississippi) and to a lesser extent in the Midwest (53% in Indiana, and 51% in Illinois and Ohio). Larger-than-average increases in unmet needs were experienced in Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, and Oklahoma.

Noncustodial parents who do not have a dependent child living with them—so-called “childless adults”—may be eligible to enroll in Medicaid or other state-funded medical assistance programs in 17 states and the District of Columbia. A useful comparison of state programs’ eligibility criteria can be found at the Kaiser Family Foundation’s website.

Five states, plus D.C., offer Medicaid or programs with similar benefits for individuals, New York being the most populous of these states and offering medical assistance to those with income up to 100% of the federal poverty level. Eleven states, plus D.C., have medical assistance programs with more limited benefits, California being the largest among them, offering benefits to those with income up to 200% of the poverty level. Lastly, four states offer limited assistance for paying health insurance premiums, typically with a work-related requirement; for example, Oklahoma’s program offers limited coverage for individuals working for a small employer, who are self-employed, or who are unemployed and actively looking for work, among other categories.

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