UPDATE: 2020 open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act plans runs from November 1, 2019 to December 18, 2019 (at 3 a.m.). Some states have longer open enrollment periods. Check to see if your state does here. Also, you can get more information about how to get insurance here and learn what kinds of plans to watch out for here.
Pop quiz: Say you’re child-free and living in Arkansas on $4,000 a year—can you get healthcare through Medicaid?
Today the answer is probably no. But thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), that may be changing.
Expanding Medicaid through the ACA could mean health coverage for 15 million uninsured Americans.
The ACA is working with states to give more low-income Americans the option to get healthcare through Medicaid. If every state expands Medicaid to the level proposed by the ACA, it could mean coverage for roughly 15 million people currently without insurance. Getting more people insured is a win for states and for the country as a whole—it would mean money saved over the long term, not to mention healthier people with better access to birth control and other preventive services.
In Arkansas, Gov. Mike Beebe says he wants to take the federal government up on their offer and expand Medicaid in his state. That could mean a single Arkansan with no kids making as much as $14,000 a year could get health coverage through Medicaid. But the state legislature isn’t sold on the idea so, while Gov. Beebe hopes to find a solution, it’s not clear yet whether Arkansas will expand or not. Arkansas isn’t alone there—lots of states are still on the fence about whether to take advantage of the offer.
Which is where you come in.
Governors around the country are starting to submit budget proposals to their state legislatures—which means as you read this article, your Governor may be deciding whether or not to include Medicaid expansion in that proposal. State legislatures are also starting to work on their state’s budget for the coming fiscal year.
Take action. Right. Now.
USA.gov makes it easy to contact your governor—all you have to do is select your state, then fill out the online form and insert your comments, or click on the link to email your governor (different states have slightly different formats). You can also reach out to your state legislators—the Library of Congress website sends you to the homepage of your state legislature where you can click on your state on their handy map (or the name of your state below it). When you get to the homepage, go to the place on that page where you can find your state legislators and enter your zip code or address to find out who represents you. Click on those legislators and you should find email addresses.
A personal message or story about why this issue matters to you can make a real impression. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy offers fact sheets for every single state with details about the cost of unplanned pregnancies and how many births were Medicaid-funded in that state. You can use information from your state’s fact sheet to show why the expansion would save your state money. You’re also welcome to help yourself to this handy, customizable sample message:
Your Governor and state legislators need to hear from you—let them know that expanding Medicaid coverage through the ACA makes economic sense and will improve the health and well-being of people in your state. Then keep track of your state’s progress with this lovely map, updated daily!