Because of the Affordable Care Act, 7.1 million people have signed up for quality, affordable, private health insurance options in the Health Insurance Marketplace through March 31. And, according to a new CMS report released today, 3 million additional individuals enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP through the end of February 2014 compared to enrollment before the Health Insurance Marketplace opened on October 1, 2013. Enrollment in states that adopted the Medicaid coverage expansion increased five-fold compared to states that are not expanding Medicaid. We expect enrollment in March to be even higher, although individuals can continue to enroll in Medicaid all year round. Eligibility determinations also continued to grow: between October 2013 and February 2014, 11.7 million people were determined eligible for Medicaid and CHIP by State agencies, up from 8.9 million reported last month for the October – January period.
The Affordable Care Act provides states with new opportunities to expand their Medicaid programs to increase access to affordable coverage. In states that expand coverage, most individuals under age 65 with incomes up to 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level ($15,521 for an individual and $31,721 for a family of four) will be eligible for Medicaid coverage. To date, 26 states and DC have expanded their Medicaid programs.
States that have expanded Medicaid saw a much more dramatic increase in Medicaid enrollment than States that have not. According to today’s report, among states that adopted the Medicaid coverage expansion and whose expansions were in effect in February, Medicaid and CHIP enrollment rose by 8.3 percent compared to the months prior to Marketplace open enrollment period. States that have not expanded Medicaid coverage reported an increase in Medicaid enrollment of 1.6 percent over the same period.
There’s no deadline for states to expand, so we’re going to keep working with the remaining states as they decide to come on board. Not only is expanding Medicaid coverage helping many people gain health coverage, it’s a good deal for states: Coverage for newly eligible adult beneficiaries is fully federally paid for under the Affordable Care Act for the first three years, and never less than 90 percent for the years following. Expanding coverage reduces hospitals’ uncompensated care, lowers “cost shifting” to businesses that see higher health insurance premiums as some of the costs of caring for the uninsured are passed on to them, and strengthens local economies.
The increase in Medicaid enrollments across the country is encouraging, but more work is left to do to ensure that the millions of uninsured Americans eligible for these programs gain coverage. Medicaid does not have a set enrollment period so people may be determined eligible for coverage at any time.