35% of Medicaid Beneficiaries Say Their Health Plan Hasn’t Reached Out About Renewing Coverage

Amid the return to Medicaid renewals, more than a third of Medicaid members, or 35%, said that their health plan hasn’t contacted them about renewing their coverage for the next year, a new survey shows.

The online survey was conducted in July by Harris Poll on behalf of Icario, a digital health company. It included responses from 957 adults covered by Medicaid in the U.S.

Medicaid renewals were put on pause during the Covid-19 public health emergency, but resumed April 1. It is estimated that up to 18 million people could lose coverage during this process, and about 21.2% of them will become uninsured.

“It’s on health plans to engage with members and educate them on what needs to happen to avoid being disenrolled, and the survey results indicate a significant number of plans aren’t doing so sufficiently,” said Troy Jelinek, chief commercial officer at Icario, in a news release.

The Icario and Harris Poll survey also found that older Medicaid members are especially experiencing communication issues with their health plans amid renewals. About 55% of Medicaid members ages 65 and older reported that their health plan hasn’t contacted them about renewing their benefits.

“The results show that the older the member is, the more likely they are to report not hearing from their health plan,” Jelinek said. “This means that plans can do a better job of tracking down their older members, who also tend to be a part of higher-risk populations, and educating themselves about communication preferences across age groups.” 

However, among those of all ages who were contacted by their health plan, 93% said “their health plan provided the appropriate information and resources needed to complete the Medicaid renewal process,” according to Icario.

“The survey data indicates that most plans do a relatively good job of giving their members the data they need, but that they’ve had greater difficulty in reaching them in the first place,” Jelinek said.

As of Thursday, more than 3.8 million Medicaid members have been disenrolled from coverage based on data from 41 states and the District of Columbia, according to a KFF analysis. Of the people disenrolled, about 74% of them were disenrolled for procedural reasons, meaning for not completing the renewal process. This can happen when Medicaid enrollees don’t update their contact information or don’t complete renewal packets by a certain time.

“High procedural disenrollment rates are concerning because many people who are disenrolled for these paperwork reasons may still be eligible for Medicaid coverage,” KFF said in their analysis.

Some states — including Maine — have paused procedural disenrollments temporarily to make improvements to the process.

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