It is extremely difficult to qualify for Medicaid in Florida. You must make less than a third of the federal poverty level and have a dependent child. That’s about $7,000 a year for someone in a family of three. Expanding Medicaid eligibility would especially benefit low-income older adults and the many unpaid and low-paid caregivers in Florida.
Low-Income Older Adults
Over 1 million low-income Floridians would be eligible for Medicaid under expansion, including an estimated 400,000 Floridians aged 50 to 64. The high number of uninsured is due to multiple factors, including that most employees in the state’s tourism and construction-based economy do not receive health care benefits. By the time they reach age 65, uninsured older Floridians may have gone years without doctor visits for preventive care and early treatment of health problems. Thus, conditions that could have been treated early and at a lower cost, become serious and expensive. Expanding Medicaid in Florida will help more older Floridians under the age of 65 get the care they need in the years before they are eligible for Medicare.
Unpaid and Low-wage Caregivers
Due to the inability to afford health care, many working-age family members have to provide personal care for aging relatives who are no longer able to take care of themselves. In the absence of Medicaid Expansion, the high growth rate of Florida’s elderly population will lead to an increase in the number of working-age Floridians pulled out of the economy in order to provide medical care and attention to their aging relatives. The Census Bureau estimates an increase of over 1 million adults aged 65 years or older living in Florida by 2030. Should an uninsured aging family member require persistent medical care, these working-age Floridians often feel the need to assume the role of caregiver for their loved ones. As more than 40 percent of Floridians access health insurance through their employer, the transition to being an unpaid caregiver will both affect one’s income and health coverage. In turn, expansion would greatly benefit anyone working as an unpaid or low-paid caregiver, as they could either be compensated for their work or access affordable avenues that would provide care for their older family members.
Under the Managed Long Term Care program in Florida, services such as home care, meal delivery and other medical needs are covered by Medicaid. However, these services are only provided to those who are Medicaid eligible. Expanding Medicaid in Florida would increase participation in this program and ease the burden of caregivers, as it would ensure that these caregivers could provide sickly family members with sufficient medical attention without losing their ability to earn an income and afford their own health insurance.
What Can You Do?
Florida Voices for Health and the Health Care for Florida coalition are actively leading a campaign to expand Medicaid and alleviate caregivers’ burden. Floridians like you can help our fight for Medicaid expansion through three simple tasks:
Sharing your story about healthcare experiences by emailing FLVoices@healthyfla.org
Recruiting family, friends and co-workers to sign our petition by visiting www.healthcareforfl.org or texting MEDEX4FL to 52886
Contacting your local legislators with one click of the mouse at https://www.healthcareforfl.org/action
Caregiver statistics: demographics. Family Caregiver Alliance. (2019). Retrieved from: https://www.caregiver.org/caregiver-statistics-demographics
Florida: Policy academy state profile. (2012). Retrieved from: https://acl.gov/sites/default/files/programs/2016-11/Florida%20Epi%20Profile%20Final.pdf
Long-term caregiving: the types of care older Americans provide and the impact on work and family. The Long-Term Care Poll. (2020). Retrieved from: https://www.longtermcarepoll.org/long-term-caregiving-the-types-of-care-older-americans-provide-and-the-impact-on-work-and-family/
Medicaid’s home care benefits: eligibility, waivers, and application information. Paying for Senior Care. (2020). Retrieved from: https://www.payingforseniorcare.com/medicaid-waivers/home-care
Torres M E, Capistrant B D, Karpman H. (2020). The effect of Medicaid expansion on caregiver’s quality of life. Journal of Social Work in Public Health. 35(6): 473-482
Harmatz, M. (2020). Why Medicaid Expansion Matters to Older Floridians Retrieved from: floridahealthjustice.org/uploads/1/1/5/5/115598329/why_medex_matters.older_floridians._final_.pdf