More jobs are added to the RI economy and yet the number of individuals on Medicaid is expanding. Here are 3 observations we're seeing as we work with individuals on a day-to-day basis as to why.
1. The obvious reason is Medicaid expansion
In RI, Medicaid expansion has increased the Medicaid threshold for more Rhode Islanders. More people qualify = more people enrolled.
- Adults with incomes up to 133% of poverty
- Pregnant women with household incomes up to 253% of poverty
- Children with household incomes up to 261% of poverty
- Women with household incomes up to 250% of poverty
2. Lack of high paying jobs
There may be more jobs but there is still a lack of high paying jobs. If you're employed at $11/hour, you're still going to qualify for Medicaid. Many low paying employers (especially small businesses) are not offering health insurance because it's cheaper for them to have everyone go on Medicaid.
3. Retirees are using Medicaid as an estate planning tool
The high cost of nursing homes and the astronomical hikes in long term care costs have forced many retirees to use advance estate planning tools to circumvent high nursing home costs. The trick? Put your assets in a trust, spend down whatever else you have, and on paper you look broke. You'll qualify for Medicaid with the state picking up your nursing home costs. With 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 each day, the growing Medicare population is definitely looking at Medicaid to cover those high nursing home expenses.
The rising enrollment in Medicaid comes at no surprise to us as we continue to see a low wage recovery here in RI.