Nearly 1.5 million Americans have enrolled in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program since the state Obamacare marketplaces went live on Oct. 1, according to a new report released Tuesday.
The report from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is the most comprehensive look yet at how the low-income public insurance programs are faring under the health care reform law. It covers the month of October, and CMS said that more reports would be released on a monthly basis.
The total includes both those who are newly eligible for Medicaid in states that expanded the program and those in all states who were already eligible. They were funneled to the program both through the state-based insurance marketplaces that have opened under Obamacare and other sources (applying through local government offices, etc.).
Coverage for those newly eligible under the Medicaid expansion starts on Jan. 1, 2014.
It does not, however, include those deemed eligible through HealthCare.gov, which is serving 36 states. According to CMS, the automatic transfer of applications from the federal website to state Medicaid agencies is not yet fully functional, so those numbers haven’t been finalized. In the administration’s last enrollment report, it said that 183,000 people in states using HealthCare.gov had been found eligible for Medicaid.
The number is also likely to go up. Major states like Ohio and Texas, where enrollment had not been finalized, were not included in the final tally.
“The Affordable Care Act is making it easier for low-income individuals to get health insurance, by simplifying the system and allowing them to fill out one application to find out if they qualify for Medicaid or tax credits for private health insurance,” CMS spokeswoman Emma Sandoe said in a statement.
The findings suggest that many people are coming to the program outside of HealthCare.gov and the state websites. When HHS released those enrollment figures as of Nov. 2, about 400,000 had been found eligible for Medicaid through those marketplaces — much lower than the 1.5 million found in the new report.
It’s not clear what is driving increased enrollment outside of the Obamacare websites. But there is some evidence that the rollout of Obamacare has increased awareness of Medicaid availability in general. Officials in South Carolina, for example, said they believed heightened awareness was driving increased Medicaid enrollment there, even thought the state did not expand its Medicaid program.
CMS also detected an uptick in interest in the programs in October, particularly in states that expanded Medicaid. In those states, the number of applications increased by 16 percent compared to the monthly average in July to September. In states that didn’t expand, the number also went up, though less so: 4 percent.
The full report is below.