More than one in five Americans are now enrolled in the federal Medicaid program, according to new data released by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Wednesday.
Enrollment in the Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program topped 65 million through April, the month after the end of the first open-enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act.
Overall, since the beginning of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid enrollment has exploded month by month. More than 1.1 million people enrolled in April. And from October through March, which coincided with the Affordable Care Act’s open-enrollment period, more than 6 million joined the Medicaid and CHIP programs. This marked about a 10.3% monthly increase from the average monthly enrollment in the months preceding.
Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia expanded their Medicaid programs as part of the law known as “Obamacare,” and enrollment in the program increased in both states that did and did not expand.
States that expanded Medicaid saw a 15.3% increase in the program’s rolls, and non-expansion states also grew their enrollments by a modest 3.3%.
The latter phenomenon is what’s known as the “woodwork effect” — when individuals who were eligible for Medicaid become aware of it because of increased outreach and attention toward healthcare, as would be expected with the implementation of a major health-law overhaul.
In May, Avalere Health released an analysis showing Medicaid enrollment had grown in 17 of the 26 states that did not expand the program. The Obama administration’s analysis displayed that it had grown in 18 of those states.
Leading enrollment in the states that have expanded Medicaid were led by Oregon, West Virginia, and Nevada, three states who saw their Medicaid rolls jump by about 40%.
The Obama administration noted, however, that many circumstances could have influenced the uptick in sign-ups other than the healthcare law kicking into effect. This is because it’s difficult to count Medicaid enrollment on a month-to-month basis, given the fact people’s eligibility depends on factors like their income, their children’s ages, and whether or not they’re pregnant.
“It is important to note that multiple factors contribute to the change in enrollment between April 2014 and the July-September 2013 baseline period, including but not limited to changes attributable to the Affordable Care Act,” the Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement.
Separate from the Medicaid expansion, more than 8 million people signed up for coverage through private insurance exchanges established by the Affordable Care Act through April, surpassing the Obama administration’s original goals.
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