FOCUS OF THE WEEK
Profile of Exchange Enrollees Begins to Emerge
January 23, 2014, 11:42:48 AM
Katie Sullivan
It’s been nearly 1 month since the federal and state health exchanges opened, and enrollment numbers are beginning to roll in.

The rate of uninsured adults dropped 1.2% in January, although there was no significant change among young adults ages 18 to 34. The findings, courtesy of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, suggest the drop in the uninsured rate could mean that between 2 million and 3 million adults have gained coverage.

“It’s a drop, but not extraordinary,” said Gallup’s Editor-in-Chief  Frank Newport. “The glass is half full for proponents of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) because things are moving in the right direction. But the glass is half empty because things haven’t moved much.”

While the rate of uninsured has decreased, the number of people who became eligible for Medicaid increased to 6.3 million as of December, with 2.3 million of those or 20%, becoming eligible for Medicaid in December alone. Some of the surge may be due to the rise of the federal poverty line, but the more reasonable explanation has been attributed to the “woodwork effect.” This phrase describes how people are “coming out of the woodwork” and discovering they are eligible for Medicaid because of the ACA, even though they were eligible before the ACA was implemented.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is reporting that it has been difficult to determine which enrollees are solely a result of Medicaid program expansions.

“Many states, for example, are reporting all the coverage determinations they are making, including renewals, and not just the determinations for those individuals submitting new applications, due to reporting capability limitations,” CMS wrote in the report. “As states shift to new eligibility and enrollment systems, we will continue to see improvements in reporting capacity.”

Around the Web

6.3 Million Eligible for Medicaid Since Obamacare Launch: U.S. Agency [Reuters]

APNewsBreak: Poll Finds Drop in Uninsured Rate [Washington Post]

Big Jump Seen in Medicaid Signups [Politico]