Medicaid Expansion Helps Working People Get Health Insurance

man with glasses smiling sitting a desk

For Brett Smith, and countless other young adults, turning 26 can be bittersweet. That’s because 26 is the age when they can no longer receive health insurance coverage through their parent’s health plans. For Brett, a full-time VCU School of Pharmacy student, this meant he was not longer covered through his father’s group insurance plan.

Luckily for Brett and other young adults without health coverage, Virginia expanded its Medicaid coverage in January 2019. Under the new rules of Medicaid expansion in Virginia, single persons with a yearly income of less than $16,754 are now eligible to receive health care coverage. 

"I was worried that if I got sick or hurt, I'd be paying ridiculous health care prices if I didn't have any coverage."

Upon turning 26, Brett applied for and received Medicaid expansion health coverage. Initially, he was assigned to a different managed care organization (MCO). But after doing some research and learning about the dental and vision benefits offered, Brett switched to Virginia Premier. He already knew about Virginia Premier through VCU and the pharmacy internship program Virginia Premier facilitates for VCU students.

Without the availability of Medicaid expansion, Brett’s other options for health care would have been COBRA coverage through his father or an individual plan through the federal exchange–either of which would have been costly for a full-time student.

“For me, Medicaid is a stop-gap coverage until I find a full-time job,” Brett noted. “But it’s a big relief knowing that I’m covered, just in case something happened.” 

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