About 396,000 Americans have learned they qualify for expanded Medicaid coverage made possible by the Affordable Care Act, USA Today reported. For instance, 72,000 Americans qualified for Medicaid in California. The first month of exchanges in Ohio saw 7,535 residents Medicaid-eligible, and that climbed to reach 275,000. And Michigan has experienced explosive Medicaid growth, where Blue Cross Blue Shield doubled business in this market segment in the last two years.
Many of the early enrollees through the state-operated health insurance exchanges are applying for Medicaid coverage. Washington State, for example, had as many as 30,000 of its first 35,000 exchange applicants enter the Medicaid program, FierceHealthFinance previously reported.
Medicaid growth may be attributable to three factors, according to USA Today: Americans learning for the first time they're Medicaid-eligible, streamlined enrollment processes under healthcare reform, and the fact that enrollment moves faster when people don't need to comparison shop for insurance.
These enrollment gains contrast sharply to lower-than-expected individual market enrollment under the Affordable Care Act. Further, Medicaid growth may positively affect the overall national healthcare system by helping state budgets, creating jobs, reducing adult death rates, increasing hospital Medicaid revenues and reducing uncompensated care, the Associated Press reported. Research also shows people who receive preventive care and control illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease contribute to an eventual overall decrease in healthcare costs, an added endorsement for Medicaid growth, USA Today noted.
Twenty-five states have declined to expand their Medicaid programs based on cost or opposition to healthcare reform. But despite its refusal to expand, South Carolina has had an influx of new Medicaid enrollments anyway, as FierceHealthFinance recently reported. This enrollment boost "might be expected" when coverage is free, Duke University professor Don Taylor, told USA Today.