Medicaid Enrollment Continues to Grow
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has reported that at the close of April, an additional 6 million Americans have enrolled in Medicaid and related health programs for the poor since the launch of coverage expansion as a result of the Affordable Care Act. In just the month of April, over 1.1 million Americans enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Healthcare Insurance Program (CHIP), coinciding with sharp drops in the number of uninsured.
These changes have been much more pronounced in those states that adopted Medicaid expansion. According to HHS, enrollment in states that expanded Medicaid rose by 15.3% compared to the average enrollment from July through September 2013. Just under half of all states opted against Medicaid expansion – generally those states led by Republican governors or legislatures that oppose the Affordable Care Act. The contrast in enrollment numbers in those states is stark: States that did not expand Medicaid reported only a 3.3% increase in enrollment during the same time period. Although many of the non-expansion states have seen enrollment remain flat in Q1, Forbes reports that 17 of those states have still seen some boost in enrollment due to increased outreach and awareness.
These significant expansions in enrollment overall will change the face of the healthcare market and the health insurance industry in particular. One study conducted by the Colorado Hospital Association of 465 hospitals in 30 states indicates an average drop of 25% in uninsured patients and a 29% increase in Medicaid at hospitals in expansion states. And nationally, it is a 10.3% jump in Medicaid enrollment overall. In addition, although the open enrollment period has ended for the federal Health Insurance Marketplaces, Medicaid is open to people with eligible incomes to sign up at any time throughout the year. Most sources predict that enrollment will likely continue to grow, even if more slowly than its current rate.