Obamacare Increasing Medicaid Participation Rates, One of Crowning Achievements

The Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as Obamacare) expands Medicaid eligibility to people with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) in states that opt in for the expansion (Medicaid expansion is optional because of the Supreme Court decision). There are also millions of U.S. adults who were already eligible for Medicaid before the expansion who were not participating in the program.

Washington Post’s Ezra Kline wrote Friday that one of the huge successes of Obamacare is the increase in participation in Medicaid through health care exchanges for people who were already eligible.

About 52 percent of adults without private health insurance who are eligible for Medicaid actually participate in the program.

That according to data from Davidoff and the Kaiser Foundation cited by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at HHS.Gov, which also noted that the participation rate did not include people enrolled in Medicaid who are on SSI disability because in many states they are automatically enrolled or much more likely to be enrolled in Medicaid. Other studies that included SSI participants came up with numbers between 62 and 68 percent. Nevada ranked the lowest among all states for Medicaid participation in this study, at 51.4 percent participation rate (also known as take up rate).

Kaiser recently noted that during the first month of enrollment, 91,000 people, who were previously eligible, enrolled in Medicaid in states that did not expand Medicaid. This means that the publicity and the mandate both are helping to increase participation in Medicaid and reduce the total number of people uncovered by health care in the United States.

Edwin Park at the Center for Budget Policy Priorities explains why high enrollment in Medicaid is neither a surprise or a concern. People eligible for Medicaid are not eligible for insurance through the marketplace, and therefore are not competition or a threat to the insurance exchanges.