Obamacare: who gets Medicaid?

I am 57 and live in Mississippi.  I will probably be laid off before year’s end.  If I do not find employment and receive no income, will Medicaid be available to me?  What will be my options with Obamacare?  Many thanks for your reply!!!

Looking Ahead

Dear Looking Ahead,

I am sorry to hear that you may be losing your job.  It’s good to be prepared for changes in your health insurance source, so let’s look at your options.

First, the Medicaid option: Mississippi’s governor announced in November that the state would not be expanding Medicaid to cover low-income adults.  Health reform, also known as Obamacare, gives each state the option to do this.  A group of advocates has formed to lobby for expanding Medicaid, but until they succeed, Medicaid is only available to families with children under age 18 or pregnant women.  (For a list of all the states and their Medicaid expansion plans, see The Advisory Board Company’s Medicaid Map.)

Many health policy wonks believe that all of the states will eventually do the Medicaid expansion.  But that does not help you in the near term.

Second, new options with Obamacare: there will be more options for buying health insurance on your own, once the health insurance exchanges open up in late 2013.  (You will be able to enroll in plans that start January 1, 2014.)  You will also be able to get help buying a plan, based upon your income.  If you are unemployed for a while, you may qualify for more subsidies.

You will need to wait until this fall, when the exchanges open up, to explore these options and the subsidies.

In the meantime, your best bet is probably to continue your plan through COBRA.  You can compare the cost of the COBRA option with an individual plan.  Visit Healthcare.gov’s plan finder and answer the questions.  It will give you links to private health plans offered in your state.

Good luck in finding a new job and staying healthy and well!

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Linda Riddell

About Linda Riddell

A published author and health policy analyst with 25 years’ experience, Linda Riddell's goal is to alleviate the widespread ailment of not knowing what your health plan can do for you.