Imagine making $1,366 each month — the Medicaid income threshold for a single adult. That’s akin to working about 32 hours a week at a minimum wage job in Chicago. How would you spend your money? If you live in North Lawndale, $720 in rent (the average cost for a one-bedroom apartment) would take more than half of your salary. Allocate another $160 to $200 for food, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Need transportation? A 30-day CTA pass will set you back $100. And then there are utilities and other housing necessities, a phone, clothing. Where would health insurance fit into your monthly budget?

Employment, while critically important, does not eliminate the need for government-sponsored health insurance programs. Approximately 60 percent of adult Medicaid members work, more than half working in excess of 40 hours a week. Eighty percent live in working families.

Medicaid is a lifeline for 1 in 4 Illinoisans, many of whom are often referred to as the “working poor.” The income threshold for Medicaid coverage is excruciatingly low. Full-time, low-wage jobs rarely come with insurance, much less a salary to cover one’s basic expenses. Job training and other support programs would be much-welcomed but far from a silver bullet.

Earning $1,366 per month qualifies a person for Medicaid, but what about someone making $1,367? That person must find her own health insurance on the marketplace, likely at a premium, or go uninsured. An eligibility line has to be drawn for practicality, but in the real world it is painfully arbitrary.

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Medicaid for the working poor: Is there a future? – Chicago Tribune