Thousands of children in Kansas lose Medicaid insurance coverage

"Unwinding" review removed eligibility from more than 75,000 people

Thousands of children in Kansas lose Medicaid insurance coverage

Life & Health

By Kenneth Araullo

A review of Medicaid eligibility in Kansas revealed that approximately 47% of those losing state health insurance coverage are 18 or younger.

A report notes that of the 75,532 Kansans who lost coverage, 24,673 were children aged 0-12, and another 10,632 were aged 13-18.

Heather Braum, senior policy adviser with Kansas Action for Children, emphasized the serious implications of health insurance gaps. She stated that even short coverage gaps can prevent children from accessing necessary prescriptions or seeing a doctor when sick.

“These data indicate that thousands of Kansas children are likely going without the protection that health coverage provides, which will lead to poorer health in the short and long term while their families are exposed to high medical costs and medical debt. Health insurance coverage and access during childhood can change the trajectory of a child’s life, for better or worse,” Braum said.

The Medicaid review process, known as “unwinding,” began in April 2023 to reassess eligibility after the end of pandemic-era federal protections.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, federal provisions had prevented Medicaid administrators from ending coverage unless the individual moved away, died, or requested termination. As a result, participation in KanCare, the state’s Medicaid program, increased from 410,000 to 540,000 people.

Early stages of the unwinding process, overseen by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), were marked by confusion over signatures, slow mail delivery, and unclear communication about the renewal requirements.

The KDHE help line received more than 37,000 calls in May and June 2023 as residents sought information. Delays in mail delivery also caused some individuals to miss the renewal deadlines.

Despite additional staff and resources added by KDHE to streamline the process, thousands of Kansans still need to reapply for coverage and are currently without health insurance until reinstatement. The Kansas Health Institute provides extensive data on the county-by-county loss of coverage through an interactive map.

Recent data shows that 318,791 people in the state will retain their coverage, while another 75,420 will need to reapply after missing the reinstatement window. Braum has called for more KDHE outreach and education, especially for families in the reinstatement window.

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