Missouri’s voter-approved Medicaid expansion is finally underway after a bumpy legal battle, which means that about 275,000 more Missourians can now get health insurance from the state. If you’ve been denied Medicaid in the past, you may now be eligible.
Missouri’s Medicaid program, called MO Healthnet, officially started processing new applications at the beginning of this month. Only 17,000 people applied as of October 1, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which means hundreds of thousands of Missourians could be accessing Medicaid but haven’t applied yet.
What is expanded Medicaid?
Medicaid is a federal government program that provides financial assistance to those who can’t afford the cost of healthcare. The state’s recent expansion doesn’t change most of the programs that it offers. It just opens eligibility to a larger number of people.
Who’s eligible for expanded Medicaid?
You may qualify for existing or expanded Medicaid programs as long as you are a Missouri resident who has lived in the U.S. for at least five years. The best way to find out whether your household qualifies for assistance is to simply apply for MO Healthnet coverage. The state will consider you for all of the available programs based on this one application.
The expansion has changed programs’ income limits to include household incomes under 138% of the federal poverty line, which is $17,774 for a single adult or $36,570 for a family of four. Those who can’t provide official proof of their U.S. residency, such as undocumented immigrants, can’t qualify.
How to apply
The MO HealthNet application asks for basic information about you and the other members of your household. It should take around 15-20 minutes to complete either online, in print or over the phone.
On the computer: The most efficient way to apply for MO Healthnet coverage is through the online portal. You can access the portal and start your application here. If you don’t want to use the portal, you can fill out the necessary paperwork online in English here o en Español aquí.
On paper: You can also print out the form and complete it in writing. When you’re done, mail it to this address:
Family Support Division
615 E. 13th St.
Kansas City, MO 64106
Over the phone: Calling the eligibility office at 855-373-9994 is the best way to apply if you have questions or think you may need assistance during the process. A specialist will walk you through the application and submit your information for review.
Keep these documents handy
You will need to provide your own Social Security number as well as those of everyone else in your household who is applying for coverage. If any of you don’t have a Social Security number, you can provide an immigration document ID number instead. You will also need to provide some basic information about each person’s income and contact information for their employers, if they are employed.
If you or another member of your household already has health insurance, you’ll need the details of that plan. That does not automatically disqualify you from receiving assistance.
Having these documents handy will make the process easier:
Social Security card or immigration documents
Recent pay stub, if you have one
Health insurance card, if you have one
Watch out for these mistakes
The MO HealthNet application requires that you provide some basic information about every person in your household-- even if they aren’t applying for coverage.
“A common issue is that a lot of times... families will have certain people in their household that they won’t add. But technically, by law, you have to add everybody in your household,” says Bailey Clark, an eligibility specialist from the Missouri Department of Social Services. She adds that while undocumented individuals cannot apply for Medicaid assistance, their presence in a household that does apply for assistance will not put them at risk of government scrutiny.
“If you have somebody in your household that is not applying for coverage… we cannot ask them for proof of citizenship,” she says.
Remember: just because you have been rejected by MO HealthNet in the past, does not mean you will be rejected again under the new expansion.
Keep this date in mind
If you apply by November 1 and are approved, your coverage will be backdated to July 1st, 2021. That means you could get reimbursed for certain medical expenses you paid in July, August, September and October.
There is no deadline to sign up for MO Healthnet benefits, either under the expansion plan or for the already existing services. If your medical expenses are causing you financial hardship, you can apply for coverage assistance at any time.
Help is available
You can access translation services to help you fill out the MO Healthnet application by calling 1-855-373-4636.
You can access teletype services for American Sign Language users by calling 1-800-735-2966 or 1-800-735-2466.
If you need general assistance with filling out the MO Healthnet application, Swope Health can help you for free. Call them at 816-599-5653 or 816-599-5654.
You can also find local assistance through the nonprofit Cover Missouri by searching for your location here.
We want to hear from you!
Have you tried to apply for Medicaid and run into any challenges? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can look into it.