What gig workers need to know about pandemic-era Medicaid expiring


By Jessica Bursztynsky

As many as 15 million people could lose their health insurance now that the U.S. is unwinding pandemic-era rules that required continuous Medicaid coverage.


For gig workers who are impacted by the change, it’s vital that they’re ready to reaffirm eligibility, says Noah Lang, CEO of Stride Health, a benefits platform that helps independent workers sign up for health insurance plans.

“The states will have to redetermine individuals, which is a very normal thing, but it hasn’t happened for two and a half, three years,” Lang tells Fast Company.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was easier than ever for people to access Medicaid coverage. Recipients didn’t have to go through the process of reenrolling every year or proving their eligibility. More than 92 million adults and children were covered by Medicaid as of December, according to government data.


Now that the coronavirus is no longer declared a national emergency, states are beginning to unenroll those who are either no longer eligible for the insurance or who haven’t completed the renewal process.

The timeline and process by which each state is tackling the unenrollment varies. Many people were unaware that the changes were even happening, according to a survey from December. States are sending out notices to reenroll through the mail, but people could have moved or aren’t aware that they’re supposed to be looking out for letters. “It’s happening in a really kind of disorganized way,” Lang says.

Lang pointed to a survey conducted by his company late last year, which found that more than a quarter of some 17,000 app-based gig workers said they received health insurance through Medicaid.


Lang says Stride Health is in touch with its partners about preparing workers for the healthcare transition, but didn’t specify which companies that involves. (Its clients include Uber and DoorDash.) “A lack of communication from the government [and] from the private sector will lead to a lack of awareness, and I’m worried,” Lang says.

A spokesperson for DoorDash said the company isn’t currently offering any educational campaigns around Medicaid signups. An Uber spokesperson didn’t return a request for comment.

Gig workers, as well as others broadly on Medicaid, should contact either the state or their health insurance carrier to ensure that their correct address is on file. Then they need to respond when they get their notice letter to renew or reapply for coverage.


“There’s a high likelihood you’re going to have to reapply and you’ll have clear instructions on what documentation you need to submit. But if you don’t, there’s a chance that you get kicked off,” Lang says. Those who do lose eligibility for Medicaid should see if they qualify for Affordable Care Act credits, which allow consumers access to lower their monthly health insurance premiums. That can help people avoid short-term health insurance plans, which Lang says can offer people “something cheaper” that isn’t “full-fledged coverage.”

“We see far too many underinsured, low-income Americans sign up for something like a short-term health plan that doesn’t fully protect them,” Lang says. “If they enter the hospital, it’s got limited benefits. Their families are under-protected, whereas they could have gotten ACA-based health coverage from a fully fledged qualified health plan and been fully covered.”

What gig workers need to know about pandemic-era Medicaid expiring

Fast Company