Missouri bars Medicaid health coverage for anybody who earns more than $2,217 a year – which boils down to $42.63 a week. I’m going to guess that many of you who take time to read this blog waste close to $42.63 a week. I’m also going to guess that you understand it’s impossible to live on $42.63 a week.
The Affordable Care Act provides subsidies for people to offset the cost of health insurance if an individual makes between 135% and 400% of the federal poverty level. The problem is, there is a segment of the population that doesn’t have any access to health insurance because Missouri hasn’t expanded Medicaid. In Missouri, if a single adult earns less than $11,490 he does not qualify for tax credits to offset the cost of insurance on the exchange yet that same individual only qualifies for Medicaid if earnings are less than $2,217 per year. In other words, people who earn between $2,217 and $11,490 have no option for affordable health coverage. There are 139,000 working Missourians who fall into this coverage gap.
Low wage earners, working folks, make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but not enough money to qualify for subsidies through the health insurance exchanges. The lack of access to health coverage may cause a person to choose not to work. Why work if your cost of health care exceeds your earnings?
I recently contacted one of my state legislators to express my thoughts on Medicaid expansion to cover low wage earners and he responded to me that he did not believe the state should provide “hand outs”.
I agree with him, but maybe we should consider expanded Medicaid coverage for a low wage earner a hand up as opposed to a hand out because if we discourage people from working the hand outs will only grow and the burden on the state and federal government will grow as well.