Over 2 million children have lost their Medicaid coverage in the United States.
Since April, many states have stopped Medicaid enrollment for low-income recipients as the federal policy guaranteeing health coverage during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic has ended.
Now, a new analysis by health policy researchers from the Georgetown Center for Children and Families and KFF states that as of this month, over 5 million Americans, including 2.2 million children, have lost health insurance.
While it’s not clear how many of these children may have found new coverage after the COVID-era ruling ended, researchers suggest these numbers might be significantly underestimated and could potentially be a larger number.
“Two million children losing Medicaid is a very high number, but it is an underestimate because of data lags between when states report unwinding disenrollments and when they report their current enrollment. Also, net figures reflect movement in and out of Medicaid, so more children are likely experiencing gaps in coverage,” researchers said in a press release.
In 2021, the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey counted 3.9 million uninsured children, which is why researchers believe the number could be a lot higher since children who were eligible for federal assistance ended up losing their eligibility due to incomplete paperwork or mistakes made by state officials.
Earlier this year, the Biden administration found flaws in the Medicaid systems causing inappropriate coverage losses for children and some adults. Efforts to rectify the problem are ongoing, but the exact number of affected children is still unknown.
“Assuming that half of those children losing Medicaid have other sources of coverage (which seems somewhat optimistic given the available data on where children are going), at least one million more children would be experiencing a period of uninsurance already, and the unwinding process has quite a ways to go yet,” researchers said.
While the process of disenrollment is still ongoing across the U.S., enrollment reductions also vary significantly among states, with California, Florida, and Texas leading in Medicaid disenrollments. Texas, in particular, is seeing the highest number of children losing their Medicaid coverage.
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