Medicaid registrations soar 4 million as coronavirus shocks U.S. economy

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The 5.7% rise between February and June came as millions of people lost their jobs – and, for many, their health insurance, too – amid the public health emergency. In addition, a congress on the coronavirus relief program adopted in mid-March prohibited states from reducing eligibility and de-enrolling beneficiaries during the pandemic.

This surge marks a reversal of the slow decline in Medicaid enrollment since mid-2017 and the accompanying rise in the number of uninsured adults and children.

More than 2.4 million adults have enrolled in Medicaid, an increase of 7.2%. In addition, 1.4 million children signed up for Medicaid or the children’s health insurance program, a jump of 4.1%. (This data does not include Arizona and the District of Columbia, which did not report escapes for adult and child enrollments for one or more of the months covered in the report.)

Some 68 million people were enrolled in Medicaid and 6.7 million more were in CHIP in June, according to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The increase, however, was lower than what some experts predicted amid the economic collapse last spring. This is in part because some workers have been temporarily laid off and able to maintain their occupational health coverage, said Edwin Park, a research professor at the Georgetown Center for Children and Families. In addition, enrollment in Medicaid typically lags behind job loss during a recession.But more of these layoffs are becoming permanent, so Medicaid enrollments are expected to increase, Park said.

The Congressional Budget Office now expects an additional 9 million people to be enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP in 2021, according to updated estimates released on Tuesday. About half of that figure comes from the economic downturn fueled by the pandemic and the other half from the requirement that states allow people to stay longer in the program.

Meanwhile, nearly half a million Americans turned to federal Obamacare scholarships earlier this year after losing health insurance coverage, according to federal data released in June.

Registrations increased in April to more than double the number from the previous April, while more people also registered in May than in previous years.

Overall, registrations jumped 46% in the first five months of 2020 compared to the same period the year before.

States that operate their own health insurance scholarships have also seen an increase in enrollment during the special enrollment periods they have enacted this year.

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