Coverage Gap Leaves Over 100k Oklahomans Without Insurance

Wednesday, March 19th 2014, 6:04 pm

The deadline to sign up for Obamacare is nearing, but well over a 100,000 Oklahomans will remain uninsured and not because they choose to. It's all because of a "coverage gap" between Medicaid and insurance that's affordable.

A US Supreme Court decision last year that said states could not be forced to expand Medicaid. And Oklahoma is one of 26 states that decided not to.

When sign up for Obamacare began last year Melissa Rodriguez thought she was finally going to get health insurance.

"Yeah, I really thought I was going to be able to get it," she said.

But when she went to sign up she was told she didn't qualify for Medicaid. And to pay out of pocket? 

"Almost, two, no, three hundred just for myself," she says

Those from 100% of the poverty line (about $11,500 for an individual) and up to about 400% of the poverty line ($46,000 for an individual) may qualify for tax credits to help pay for insurance premiums.

Some people already had an income low enough they qualify for Medicaid. The Affordable Care Act was designed to expand Medicaid to cover those in the middle. But here in Oklahoma, we opted not to do that.

Obamacare Navigator Lordes Chapa says about 20% of people who come to her for help can't get insurance for this reason.

"They know they're not going to be penalized, but their situation is they stay the same as in the beginning,"

And that's the case for Melissa.

"I still don't have insurance. So if I ever get sick it's coming out of my pocket," she says.

In her state of the state address, Gov. Mary Fallin said the state didn't expand Medicaid because she didn't want to put the nation further into debt or place Oklahoma on a fiscally unsound path.

Many Oklahomans still have questions about Obamacare and the March 31 deadline to get health insurance. On Thursday, News 9 and OETA will have a panel of experts answering your questions about the law and how to get covered, if you need it.

Call our Health Care Hotline. Lines are ONLY open Thursday between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.