Most Exchange Enrollees Applying for Medicaid

During the first month of open enrollment in several states, significantly more people have applied for Medicaid as opposed to private insurance coverage through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act exchanges, according to a report from The Washington Post.

keyboard3In some places, 90 percent of enrollees so far have sought Medicaid coverage. For instance, 82,473 people have applied for Medicaid coverage and only 3,186 have sought private insurance through Maryland's exchange. In Washington state, 42,605 of people looking for coverage through the exchange have applied for Medicaid while only 6,390 have sought private coverage.

If this trend continues, it could widen the gap between states that decided to expand Medicaid and those that declined, according to the report. Under the PPACA, states have the option of extending Medicaid eligibility to cover people earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. As of Oct. 22, 25 states have chosen not to expand their programs, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Additionally, the small number of people seeking private health plans could indicate only the sickest people who need coverage the most are signing up, a development that could lead to future premium increases, according to the report.

The enrollment numbers have provided another point of criticism for Republican opponents of the law, who say it will primarily expand an expensive program, according to the report. However, supporters have countered that states including Maryland have encountered technical issues with their exchange sites (similar to the issues with HealthCare.gov) that have delayed private insurance enrollment.

The federal exchange site's technical problems — which include crashes due to high traffic and people being unable to create accounts — have resulted in scrutiny from Republican lawmakers. Six people managed to successfully enroll through the site by Oct. 2, the day after enrollment opened, according to CMS documents obtained by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). By the morning of Oct. 3, 248 people had managed to enroll in coverage through the site.

So far, the Obama administration hasn't provided an official number of individuals who have successfully enrolled through HealthCare.gov, according to a committee news release. As of last Friday, HHS reported nearly 700,000 Americans had completed applications for coverage through the healthcare reform law's marketplaces.

More Articles on Health Insurance Enrollment:
HHS: Half of Single Young Adults Can Get PPACA Coverage for $50 or Less Per Month
IRS Has Received More Than 330,000 PPACA Tax Credit Calculation Requests
Officials: HealthCare.gov Will Run Smoothly by End of November 

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