Collection of Race, Ethnicity, Language (REL) Data in Medicaid Applications: A 50-state Review of the Current Landscape
Medicaid is a vital source of health insurance coverage for low-income children, adults, and individuals with disabilities; however, many individuals in Medicaid experience significant health disparities. Collecting and monitoring data on disparities by race, ethnicity, and language is an essential first step in any effort to reduce health disparities and address health equity. Today, all state Medicaid agencies collect self-reported data on race, ethnicity, and language (REL) from applicants during the eligibility and enrollment process. However, the type and granularity of information collected varies considerably, and many states continue to face longstanding and persistent challenges in collecting complete, accurate, and consistent data on REL.
This issue brief documents how states are collecting information about race, ethnicity, and language on their Medicaid applications. The information presented here draws from the State Health Access Data Assistance Center’s (SHADAC’s) review of 50 states’ paper Medicaid applications and 33 states’ online Medicaid applications. For this resource, the authors provide an overview of REL data collection standards and examine state Medicaid application’s question structure, answer options, and instructional language. They also provide an overview of the frequency of different iterations of questions and responses and provide state examples to illustrate common and unique data collection practices. Although other design factors, such as an application’s overall length, readability, or design layout undoubtedly impact user experience (and whether or not an applicant provides complete information), the authors did not assess applicants’ user experience in this report.
As states continue the unwinding of the Medicaid continuous coverage requirement and redetermining their enrollees, states across the country have reported scams asking consumers for financial or personal information are prevalent. This expert perspective provides recommendations on what state communications and digital teams can do to mitigate online scams and protect official sources of information.
The unwinding of the Medicaid continuous coverage requirement represents the largest nationwide coverage transition since the Affordable Care Act, with significant health equity implications. Given the intense focus on coverage transitions during the unwinding, some states have initiated plans to publish a data dashboard to monitor progress. To date, the District of Columbia and 15 states have published unwinding data in a visual dashboard format (this does not include states with pre-existing enrollment dashboards that don’t specifically identify unwinding cohorts). This expert perspective now includes an interactive map with the links to all the dashboards and states publishing CMS unwinding reports. SHVS will continue to update the EP and map as more states publish their unwinding data.