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How a government shutdown may impact health insurance

Most people will not see any immediate impacts from a government shutdown, but the longer it lasts, the more likely people may feel its effects. People who have healthcare benefits through government-funded programs, like Medicare and Medicaid, may see some slowdowns in certain routine processes. Here is a look at how a government shutdown may affect Medicare, Medicaid and even private health plans.

government buildingHow does a shutdown affect Medicare?

Medicare offers health insurance coverage to about 63 million older individuals and those with qualifying disabilities, making it an important government program that supports some of the most vulnerable individuals in the United States.

According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, Medicare is considered mandatory government spending, which means it’s not fully affected by a government shutdown. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also says that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will continue to support Medicare activities. People with a Medicare plan will still be able to get care and use their health benefits. Additionally, KFF Health News states that the Medicare annual open enrollment period shouldn’t be affected, so individuals will still be able to enroll in or switch Medicare plans without being affected.

Some parts of Medicare may be affected, such as insurance card requests and benefit verification. Doctors and hospitals will still be able to submit Medicare claims and receive payment.

Blue Cross of Idaho Medicare Advantage plans are not offered through the federal government, so any delays in certain processes followed by original Medicare will not affect Medicare Advantage plans.

How does a shutdown affect Medicaid?

Medicaid is a state-managed program that offers health insurance coverage to eligible low-income families and individuals. According to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, there are more than 400,000 Idahoans who are currently on Medicaid.

In spite of a government shutdown, HHS states there is enough funding for CMS to support Medicaid through the first quarter of 2024. Therefore, individuals with Medicaid coverage will not face any immediate effects of a government shutdown.

Will a shutdown affect my Blue Cross of Idaho plan?

Private health insurance is not directly affected by government shutdowns. If you have a health plan through Blue Cross of Idaho, your service with us will not be impacted by a shutdown.

This includes the following Blue Cross of Idaho plan types:

  • Affordable Care Act plans
  • Access plans
  • Medicare Advantage plans
  • D-SNP plans
  • Employer-sponsored plans

Additionally, HHS states that open enrollment will not be impacted and you will still be able to shop for plans on Your Health Idaho (Idaho’s state health insurance marketplace) during open enrollment, which begins on November 1 each year.

As a Blue Cross of Idaho member, you can always expect the same quality service and benefits, no matter what.

Health plan benefits will continue

The overall immediate effects of a government shutdown on federally funded health insurance programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, will be small. You will still be able to go to the doctor for healthcare services and use your benefits, and doctors can still submit claims for payment. However, the longer a government shutdown lasts, the more likely people may start to see a delay in some response times for certain services.


Written by: Blue Cross of Idaho

Posted: November 13, 2023