By Devin Blake
This story was originally published by Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, where you can find other stories reporting on fifteen city neighborhoods in Milwaukee. Visit milwaukeenns.org.
After March 31, those who receive BadgerCare Plus will have to return to the pre-pandemic process of reapplying and being re-evaluated for coverage.
Local health care professionals want them to be prepared. BadgerCare Plus serves people who need health care coverage but who may not qualify for Medicaid.
Because of federal legislation that went into effect in March 2020, those who have received BadgerCare Plus benefits have been able to keep those benefits without having to go through the renewal process as was required every 12 months before that time, said Caroline Gómez-Tom, enrollment network and accessibility manager for Covering Wisconsin.
But Gómez-Tom said, “People should not panic.”
Covering Wisconsin is a nonprofit organization based out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison that helps people throughout Wisconsin understand and apply for health insurance.
Here are some crucial details to keep in mind:
How to prepare
First, people should understand that everyone’s date to reapply will be different.
Renewal dates will fall anywhere from June 2023 to May 2024, said Elizabeth Goodsitt, communications specialist for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, which manages BadgerCare Plus.
People should receive a letter in March informing them of their renewal date. They will then receive a renewal packet 45 days before that renewal date, Goodsitt said.
Update your digital accounts
Gómez-Tom said people should update any digital accounts related to Medicaid.
You can create an account on access.wi.gov, which is Wisconsin’s Medicaid website. You can also download the MyACCESS mobile app, “which is probably even easier than the website,” said Gómez-Tom.
These platforms can be used for communicating with the Department of Health Services, or DHS, about renewal dates and other important correspondence.
‘Read everything carefully
Winona Grieger, a navigator at Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center, emphasized the importance of “paying attention” to any correspondence from DHS and “reading everything carefully” to make sure you understand what is expected.
Don’t renew prematurely
As far as collecting relevant paperwork to prepare for the renewal, Gómez- Tom counseled that recipients not “jump the gun.” DHS will be, for the most part, assessing people’s employment situation and want the most current pay stubs possible. Additionally, there is a potential risk in trying to renew prematurely. “We don’t want people to renew before their time to renew because that might risk them losing coverage sooner than they would otherwise,” Gómez-Tom said.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get help
In addition to household income, household size is the other major factor in whether someone qualifies for Medicaid. UW-Madison maintains a chart (second page), outlining these thresholds.
Gómez-Tom advises caution in reviewing this information, though, because someone can look at this chart and determine they do not qualify.
“There are other factors that can affect it (eligibility),” she said, including yearly expenses and tax information specific to the applicant. “A navigator can take everything into account and determine that a person actually is eligible.”
“Throughout this whole process and transition, if people have any questions along the way – need help with finding their renewal date, what they will need for their renewals, doing the renewal itself, finding out other options if they find out they are not eligible – navigators are here to help,” said Gómez -Tom. “No question is too small.”
How to get help
For people in the Greater Milwaukee area who have questions for a navigator, they can call or text 414-400-9489.
You also can go to coveringwi.org or wiscovered.com, where you can talk in real time with a navigator.
You can also call 2-1-1, a service that helps connect people to resources.
We’re here to help as well. To ask a question through News414, text “MKE” to 73224. Then text 7 to get in touch with a reporter.