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Arizona children pay more under health law

child-hand-620The families of 14,000 Arizona children who lost health coverage earlier this year are likely paying more for fewer benefits under the Affordable Care Act, according to newly released study.

The study by Georgetown University and the Children’s Action Alliance, which came out Thursday, indicates parents of thousands of kids have to shop in the federal marketplace for insurance because they earned income just above Medicaid’s qualifying limit.

KidsCare provided ample coverage with no cost-sharing but the plans available through Obamacare require families to pay more through co-payments, deductibles and co-insurance, The Arizona Republic reported.

“People stopped thinking about KidsCare as we got closer to the launch of the marketplace,” said Dana Wolfe Naimark, president and CEO of Children’s Action Alliance. “There was an underlying assumption that the marketplace would be there for the kids.”

The state ended its KidsCare program, which functions as the federal-state Children’s Health Insurance Program, in February. As a result, 26,000 children were transferred to the state’s Medicaid program. For the other 14,000 children, their parents may have to dig deeper for hundreds of more dollars. Those families were found to have brought in income that was slightly higher than 138 percent of the federal poverty level, which is about $32,800 for a family of four. As a result, they lost their coverage.

A one-child family considered too well-off for Medicaid would have paid $180 annually for KidsCare coverage, according to the report. But now the same family would pay anywhere from $780 to $1,400 yearly under three marketplace plans.

The report’s researchers fear the cost difference and out-of-pocket expenses will make families put off getting their children covered.

“There is a tendency for families to think about cost-sharing and that can impact their behavior when accessing care for their children,” said Tricia Brooks, the study’s co-author and senior fellow at the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.

Naimark said Children’s Action Alliance plans to bring the report’s findings to the attention of the next Arizona governor as well as the Legislature after this fall’s election. Despite political debates over expanding Medicaid, Naimark said there has generally been bipartisan support for getting health-insurance coverage to all low-income children.

“Now that we’re getting information back on what it looks like in the marketplace, we have to ask, ‘Are we meeting goals of providing affordable coverage?'” Naimark said.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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