OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – July 1 marks the first day Medicaid expansion benefits roll out. The state expects the expansion to give 200,000 people healthcare.
The Oklahoma Health Care Authority says about 125,000 people have signed up for Medicaid expansion since applications opened last month.
This is happening after the passage of SQ 802 last year. Most of the funding is from the federal government.
“It’s a big day for Oklahomans as well as our staff here at OHCA. We’ve been working for the past year to prepare for this moment,” Melissa Richey with the Oklahoma Health Care Authority said.
People ages 19-64 whose income is 138 percent (133 percent with a 5 percent disregard) of the federal poverty level or lower are eligible to sign up. This equates to an estimated annual income of $17,796 for an individual or $36,588 for a family of four.
Qualifying individuals get full Medicaid benefits, including preventative and primary care.
“That’s really important to keep long-care health care costs down. This is going to help out and really extend a lifeline to rural hospitals who have kind of a disproportional high number, or high percentage of patients who historically have not had insurance,” Dr. George Monks with the Oklahoma State Medical Association said.
However, the work isn’t done. There are still about 75,000 people that are eligible to sign up.
OHCA is working on reaching people who may not have access to the internet.
“We have 77 counties in Oklahoma. That’s a lot of Oklahomans that we need to reach that are spread out across the state,” Richey said.
Variety Care has partnered with community organizations for outreach. They also have application counselors to help. Walk-ins are also accepted.
“A lot of patients, when they do receive an approval, they are excited, they are crying tears of joy, because these are individuals that aren’t able to regularly see a primary care physician,” Lance Evans with Variety Care said.
You can call Variety Care at (405) 632-9988 or visit varietycare.org/medicaid.
For applying through the state, OHCA said the following in a news release:
“Oklahomans should gather their documents ahead of time, then apply at www.mysoonercare.org or by calling 800-987-7767. Those who apply by phone or online will receive notification of their status immediately. Those who choose to print off the application, available in English and Spanish, will have a 14-21 day wait time. All approved applicants will receive a letter by mail.”