Concern Growing That Low Income Parents Can't Afford Health Insurance

Jan 13, 2014

About 4500 parents who used to have health insurance through RIte Care, the state’s Medicaid program, will have to reapply for insurance if they want to remain covered after the end of the month. The biggest concern is that the poorest Rhode Islanders may not be able to afford it.

Many of the state's poorest residents may run into trouble under Obamacare.
Credit Aaron Read / RIPR

The affected families are those who qualified for RIte Care because their kids did. The idea was to ensure the whole family had health insurance. Late last year state lawmakers changed the eligibility rules for parents on RIte Care, lowering the amount they could earn annually by roughly 20 percent.  That meant about 4500 no longer qualified. They were temporarily enrolled in another health plan. But if they want to keep their coverage next month, they will have to reapply through HealthSource RI, the state’s online insurance exchange. The Economic Progress Institute’s Linda Katz says some may still qualify for RIte Care.  

“It’s really important for parents to go through the application process," said Katz. "Because particularly parents near the lower end of the cut-off limit may still be eligible, because there’s new ways that income is counted in determining eligibility as a result of the Affordable Care Act.”

For instance, you don’t have to count child support in your annual income any more. Katz says the changes have caused confusion for parents. And it remains to be seen how many will choose to enroll in—and be able to afford—new coverage.