The bumpy road for the federal Affordable Care Act continues to create obstacles for thousands of Michigan residents.
In this case, the state is talking about people who went shopping for insurance in the marketplace through the healthcare.gov website. As they shopped, 84,000 residents were told they might qualify for what's being called traditional Medicaid. Traditional Medicaid is designed to cover the poorest of the poor, including children, pregnant women and the disabled. According to the Michigan Department of Community health, that program currently covers 1.8 million people in Michigan and 1.2 million of those people are children.
Information about the 84,000 people who were told they might qualify was supposed to be transferred to the state. Then, the state would have been able to verify eligibility and get them signed up for coverage immediately. However, the state says they have not been receiving complete information on those people, and as a result could not process them for coverage. It is possible some of those people have signed up by using the state website, but that cannot be confirmed right now.
Medicaid expansion not ready until April 1
That communication gap does not impact signup for Michigan's version of expanded Medicaid, according to Angela Minicuci, the Public Information Office for the Michigan Department of Community Health. Signup for the new program has not started yet.
"That will begin in April, but we don't have an exact date at this point, because we want to make sure that our systems are fully ready for this new influx of individuals. We don't want see what's happening at the federal in terms of technology issues happen in Michigan," Minicuci told Ruth to the Rescue.
Health Michigan will be available to working Michigan residents who make up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level: $16,105 for a single person and $32,913 for a family of four. About a half a million people are expected to qualify for the state's expanded coverage. The state's website needs to be updated for the launch, as it will need to take payments. Unlike "traditional" Medicaid, state law will require people to pay up to 5 percent of their income for their health care benefits.
The two programs will complement each other, with some people qualifying for the "traditional" Medicaid and others using Healthy Michigan.
How to sign up
Once the state is ready to roll out the Healthy Michigan program, the coverage will be retroactive to April 1. However, if you think you qualify for traditional Medicaid you can sign up for that coverage right away. You can either go to your local office of the Michigan Department of Health Services or go the state's website.