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Understanding the Importance of Consistent Medicaid Coverage

A woman holding a baby lies in a hospital bed
A pandemic moratorium on Medicaid disenrollment allows for a unique study
  • Client
    Association for Community Affiliated Plans
  • Dates
    Round 1: May 2021 - October 2021
    Round 2: June 2022 - October 2022

Medicaid enrollees typically “churn” their coverage by letting it lapse and then re-enrolling. This churn often happens for administrative reasons—an individual’s inability to complete paperwork by the program’s deadline, for instance—or temporary fluctuations in enrollees’ income.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, states stopped that churn by agreeing not to disenroll people from their Medicaid coverage. Meanwhile, Congress introduced legislation that indefinitely protected some groups, such as postpartum women, from Medicaid churn. This moratorium on removing people from the Medicaid rolls during the COVID-19 pandemic provided a unique opportunity to explore the impact of more consistent Medicaid coverage on enrollees.

On behalf of the Association for Community Affiliated Plans, NORC conducted in-depth interviews with 15 Medicaid recipients from five groups often at risk of Medicaid churn—parents of children, individuals with chronic conditions, new mothers, people diagnosed with COVID-19, and those with substance use disorders. They discussed their previous experiences with inconsistent coverage and Medicaid's impact on their health, finances, and overall well-being.

Interviewees noted that they received important— even lifesaving—care during the pandemic that they would not have obtained if Medicaid had not covered them.

The medical conditions they cited included:

  • Prenatal and postpartum care
  • Proper management of chronic conditions like diabetes
  • Hospitalization for COVID
  • Surgeries

Interviewees said Medicaid coverage was also critical for maintaining paid health care for their children.

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