More than 1.2 million Texans have lost their health insurance after COVID-19 job losses and are now eligible to get covered through subsidized Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Texas Medicaid plans. But without state policy changes, many could lose that coverage in 2021 and the uninsured rate would likely skyrocket. That’s one of the findings of an Episcopal Health Foundation (EHF) analysis of Texas job losses and health insurance eligibility released in a recent report by Kaiser Family Foundation.
EHF’s analysis found that beginning in January 2021, more than 1.1 million Texans could be part of the uninsured who become stuck in the state’s health insurance “coverage gap”—a 50 percent increase from 2020. That means more than 1.1 million Texans would not be able to afford health insurance because they earn too much to qualify for Medicaid in Texas and too little to qualify for subsidized health insurance offered through ACA plans. The increase could push the state’s uninsured population to more than 5 million people.
This coverage gap only happens in states that declined to expand Medicaid under the ACA. The gap could increase substantially in 2021, as people who were once eligible for subsidized ACA plans due to 2020 income, including unemployment benefits, lose those discounts, but don’t qualify for non-expanded Medicaid.
In EHF’s latest statewide health policy poll, almost two-thirds (64 percent) of Texans said they support Medicaid expansion. Right now, Texas has the most people and the highest percentage of residents in the health insurance coverage gap compared to any other state. Estimates show that in 2021, 27 percent of all Americans stuck in the coverage gap will live in Texas.
Despite the pending health insurance crisis that could come next year, EHF’s analysis also found that the unprecedented loss of employer-sponsored health insurance coverage presents new opportunities for the state to help Texans sign up for other health insurance options now.
EHF’s analysis found that 75 percent of the 1.6 million Texans who lost health insurance through their employers during COVID-19 are eligible for subsidized coverage through ACA or Medicaid plans. In 2019, EHF’s analysis found that those subsidies cut monthly insurance premium costs for Texas ACA enrollees by an average of 78 percent—from $544 to $118.
To read the complete analysis report, click here.
Episcopal Health Foundation (Houston, TX)
Contact: Brian Sasser