1 in 5 Americans on Medicaid

Posted: Jun 06, 2014 5:30 PM

Evidence shows that enrollment in Medicaid is skyrocketing. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a report this week revealing April’s application and enrollment data for the federal Medicaid program.

Of the 48 states that provided information for that month, over 65 million Americans are shown to receive Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) benefits. Together, this amounts to more than one in five Americans.

The records indicate the vast expansion of Medicaid under the first open-enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act:

Looking at the additional enrollment since October when the Marketplace open enrollment began, among the 48 states reporting both April 2014 enrollment data and data from July-September of 2013, over 6 million additional individuals are enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP, a 10.3 percent increase over the average monthly enrollment for July through September of 2013.

We have seen an overall 10.3 percent enrollment increase and approximately 1.1 million additional people have received benefits in April alone. Although just half of the states expanded Medicaid as a result of the Affordable Care Act, there has been an increase in enrollment across the board.

Business Insider offers one possible reason:

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.

As a result of Obamacare, Medicaid expands its eligibility to households earning less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

How can more people receiving health coverage be a bad thing? It's not if we accomplish it the right way. As we’ve seen with the Veteran’s Administration fiasco, government-run health care can have disastrous consequences. Medicaid is no exception.

First, in many states Medicaid pays doctors so little that some are refusing to see Medicaid patients. Second, it is becoming increasingly difficult for patients to find physicians who will accept their coverage. Suddenly, those already on the program have to compete with millions of new patients to receive care from a diminishing number of providers. That is not sustainable.

Finally, at the state level Medicaid expansion puts undue strain on state's already-stretched budgets while breeding more dependency on government programs. Does this really sound like a good solution? Instead of expanding Medicaid, we need to shrink health care costs and create jobs so Americans will have the means to to obtain their own private or employer-sponsored health insurance.