Obama: HealthCare.gov Informs 396K Residents of Medicaid Eligibility
On Thursday, President Obama noted that 396,000 U.S. residents have learned through HealthCare.gov that they are eligible for Medicaid coverage, USA Today reports. The remark comes one day after HHS released lower-than-expected enrollment numbers for the federal and state health insurance exchanges for the first month of open enrollment.
During a news conference, Obama said data showing that hundreds of thousands of people nationwide had learned about their Medicaid eligibility was something "that's been less reported on, but it shouldn't be." He acknowledged that while much of the media's focus has been on the rocky rollout of HealthCare.gov, the high number of new potential Medicaid beneficiaries should not be overlooked. "[T]hey're Americans like everybody else, and the fact that they are now able to get insurance is going to be critically important," Obama said.
For example, 7,404 residents in North Carolina were deemed eligible for Medicaid, compared with just 1,600 residents who purchased private coverage through the state's federally run insurance exchange (Kennedy, USA Today, 11/14). Meanwhile, in Florida and Texas -- two states with high uninsured rates that have declined to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act -- 13,000 and 11,600 residents were deemed Medicaid-eligible, respectively. In Wisconsin, 11,000 residents learned that they can enroll in the state's Medicaid program (Galewitz, "Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 11/14).
Medicaid eligibility numbers were higher in states that opted to establish their own insurance exchanges and expand the program, according to USA Today. Washington state reported that 48,196 people were deemed eligible to enroll in Medicaid or CHIP, while just 9,000 purchased a private plan on the exchange. In California, about 72,000 residents have qualified for coverage through the state's Medicaid program (USA Today, 11/14).
Many New Beneficiaries Enroll Because of 'Woodwork' Effect
According to KHN's "Capsules," the influx of new Medicaid beneficiaries has been described as the "woodwork" or "welcome mat" effect, because consumers visited the federal exchange website intending to purchase private coverage, even though they were eligible for Medicaid. HealthCare.gov determines users' eligibility for Medicaid or federal subsidies to offset the cost of private coverage after they enter certain personal data, such as income ("Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 11/14).
Cathy Levine, executive director of Universal Health Care Action Network Ohio, said, "Most of the people who look for affordable coverage assume they're not eligible for Medicaid. They're working two and three jobs, and they think Medicaid is for people on food stamps." She added that she expects to see enrollment in Medicaid to "pick up" by Dec. 15, the last day that consumers must make a purchase for coverage to take effect Jan. 1 (USA Today, 11/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.