Broward County

Florida is home to nearly 300K uninsured young adults, group reports

Ruby Edwards (rear L), Juan Gonzalez (rear R) and other protesters gather in the office of Florida State Rep. Manny Diaz as they protest his stance against the expansion of Medicaid eligibility rules on September 20, 2013, in Miami.
Ruby Edwards (rear L), Juan Gonzalez (rear R) and other protesters gather in the office of Florida State Rep. Manny Diaz as they protest his stance against the expansion of Medicaid eligibility rules on September 20, 2013, in Miami. Getty Images

An estimated 330,000 Floridians between the ages of 18 and 34 are uninsured and likely to remain so unless state legislators accept the federal government’s offer to fund the cost of expanding the eligibility criteria for Medicaid as called for under the Affordable Care Act, according to a brief released this week by a national nonprofit that advocates for voter education.

The group, Young Invincibles, cites U.S. Census data to report that nearly 900,000 adult Floridians fall in the so-called “coverage gap” — meaning they do not earn enough to qualify for federal financial aid to buy a private health plan on the ACA exchange, and they likely earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, the state-federal health program for the poor and disabled.

To qualify for a subsidized plan on the ACA exchange in a state that did not expand Medicaid, such as Florida, an individual cannot earn less than the federal poverty level of $11,670 in 2014, or more than four times that amount, about $46,680.

Under the ACA, those American adults who live below the poverty level were to qualify for Medicaid. But a 2012 Supreme Court ruling on the health law gave states the option not to expand Medicaid eligibility rules for adults. Florida and 22 other states have not done so.

Young Invincibles advocates for Florida legislators to expand Medicaid eligibility.

Most children who meet poverty criteria qualify for Medicaid in Florida. But adults must be both poor and either have minor children or be blind or disabled.

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which administers the programs on the federal level, Florida’s income limit for parents is approximately 35 percent of the federal poverty level, which means a single parent with one child can only earn an income of $453 per month or less ($5,436 annually) to be eligible, and a single disabled adult can only make $721 a month or less ($8,652 annually).

Non-disabled adults without minor children are currently ineligible for Medicaid in Florida, regardless of how poor they might be.

Young Invincibles reports that nearly 60 percent or about 198,000 of the state’s young adults who fall in the coverage gap live in the four largest metropolitan areas — including 28 percent or about 92,000 in Miami; 13 percent or about 43,000 in Tampa; 12 percent or about 39,600 in Orlando; and 5 percent or about 16,500 in Jacksonville.

  Comments