Missouri has the second-lowest Medicaid eligibility threshold in the nation. Families with a dependent in the household cannot earn more than about 22% of the federal poverty level (FPL) to qualify. For a family of four, that amounts to $480 per month. At minimum wage, that is less than 12 hours per week. Single individuals or couples without dependents are not eligible regardless of income.
Currently, children (up to age 19) are eligible with household incomes up to 305% of FPL. That works out to $79,910 for a family of four in 2020. The same standard applies to pregnant and postpartum women. Individuals with disabilities qualify with income under 85% of FPL, as do senior adults, ages 65+. Blind individuals may earn up to 100% of FPL, $12,760 for an individual per year.
MISSOURI MEDICAID EXPANSION
But that is all about to change. Last month, voters approved a Medicaid expansion initiative that will provide access to healthcare through Medicaid for households with income up to 138% of FPL.
To put this in perspective, a single mom with two kids earning minimum wage for 10 hours per week currently earns too much to qualify for Medicaid in Missouri. And the same mom, working 40 hours per week at $10.40 per hour, would earn too little to be eligible for Marketplace Insurance, commonly referred to as Obamacare. With the voter-approved expansion of Medicaid set to take place next July, this mom would have medical coverage in either circumstance.
The people most locked out of the system have been empty nesters, couples who have no dependents and no eligibility for access to Medicaid, regardless of income. Medicaid Expansion will cover them with combined household income up to $23, 791 per year.
Fully 29% of Missouri’s 6.1 million people are considered low income, with household incomes less than twice the FPL. Among people of working age, 19-64, only 9% are currently covered by Medicaid. When we look at households with low income comprised of people of working age, fully 36.9% in Taney County and 35.1% in Stone County had no health insurance in recent years (pre-COVID). That compares with 8.5% of all individuals in the U.S. without health insurance in 2018. In other words, the incidence of people without healthcare insurance in the segment of the local workforce served by Faith Community Health is more than four times greater than the U.S. average. More than one in three.
TOUGH TIMES FOR BRANSON AREA WORKERS
Even before COVID, we all knew it’s a tough economy here for front line workers. With so many people in the lodging and foodservice industries out of work now, and many others experiencing the loss of health insurance coverage as their employers cut back, the need for affordable medical care is growing rapidly.
Faith Community Health is in a position to meet that need as we partner with local businesses through our FaithCare program. People sometimes wonder about the impact of Medicaid expansion on FAiTH. While we expect that some of our patients will gain access to Medicaid services after expansion, we also recognize that the unmet need among low-income workers is far greater than our current reach. Most of them will not qualify for Medicaid.
By partnering with employers in our region, we are able to expand the network of care we can provide through FaithCare. Our donors will have the satisfaction of knowing that their investment in a healthy community is paying dividends as we reach even more people in need of access to affordable healthcare without requiring ever-growing community support. Working together, we can care for our own neighbors in a sustainable manner. Thank you for caring and sharing God’s love through whole-person care as you partner with Faith Community Health.