Study: Obamacare Accounts for 1 Million Medicaid Sign-Ups

A health care consulting firm estimates that the health law is directly responsible for as many as 1.8 million new Medicaid enrollees.

MIAMI, FL - FEBRUARY 21: Dr. Martha Perez examines Maria Lebron in a room at the Community Health of South Florida, Doris Ison Health Center on February 21, 2013 in Miami, Florida. Florida Gov. Rick Scott reversed himself on February 20, and now is callling for an expansion of Medicaid to Florida residents under the federal Affordable Care Act. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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Clara Ritger
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Clara Ritger
Feb. 5, 2014, 5:21 a.m.

Roughly 1.1 mil­lion to 1.8 mil­lion Amer­ic­ans en­rolled in Medi­caid be­cause of Obama­care, a health care con­sult­ing firm finds.

Avalere Health ana­lyzed the 2013 Obama­care en­roll­ment re­ports, in­clud­ing those from the Health and Hu­man Ser­vices De­part­ment, which has said that more than 6.3 mil­lion in­di­vidu­als were deemed eli­gible for Medi­caid. That num­ber in­cludes in­di­vidu­als who were already en­rolled in Medi­caid and would con­tin­ue to stay on it, be­cause the ex­change re­de­ter­mined eli­gib­il­ity.

Avalere Health com­pared en­roll­ment in Oc­to­ber through Decem­ber with en­roll­ment in sum­mer 2013 to ac­count for the num­ber of people who would have signed up for Medi­caid re­gard­less of the Af­ford­able Care Act, and for reg­u­lar churn in the pro­gram.

The num­bers fall far short of the 8 mil­lion in­di­vidu­als ex­pec­ted to en­roll in Medi­caid in 2014, ac­cord­ing to up­dated es­tim­ates from the Con­gres­sion­al Budget Of­fice. Avalere Health es­tim­ates only 5 mil­lion Amer­ic­ans will join the pro­gram this year, and its mod­el in­cludes those states that de­cided not to ex­pand Medi­caid.

The ma­jor­ity of the new en­rollees come from the 26 states in­clud­ing the Dis­trict of Columbia that op­ted to go along with the Af­ford­able Care Act’s ex­pan­sion of the Medi­caid pro­gram to in­di­vidu­als with in­comes up to 138 per­cent of the fed­er­al poverty line. Avalere Health es­tim­ates that ex­pan­sion states rep­res­ent some three-fourths of all new sign-ups.

“There are a host of pub­lic-wel­fare reas­ons as to why you want to get people in­to Medi­caid,” said Car­oline Pear­son, vice pres­id­ent at Avalere Health. “Medi­caid is an im­port­ant safety net for the low-in­come.”

But the ad­min­is­tra­tion has a ways to go in its out­reach ef­forts to get the Medi­caid-eli­gible pop­u­la­tion covered. Bad press sur­round­ing the launch of the fed­er­al ex­change web­site, Health­Care.gov, is likely a con­trib­ut­ing factor to the low en­roll­ment totals, Pear­son said, as well as sus­tained is­sues with the trans­fer of Medi­caid ap­plic­a­tions from Health­Care.gov to state agen­cies.

“[En­roll­ment] def­in­itely could speed up be­cause now cov­er­age is avail­able,” she said. “We know that people tend to not en­roll in their cov­er­age un­til it’s ac­tu­ally avail­able.”

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