All the news about the availability of health insurance is stirring up tremendous excitement for people who, for the first time, will be able to get Medicaid coverage and the health benefits they need. But it’s also creating a buzz that’s reaching families and individuals who have been eligible for Medicaid in the past, but have not enrolled. As a result, some states are reporting a “Welcome Mat Effect” -- those encouraging messages are bringing uninsured people to the threshold of the Medicaid program and they are walking through the door! This phenomenon is not new. It mirrors what many states experienced when they first implemented broad children’s coverage expansions. For example, in its first year of implementation (November 2005 to November 2006), Illinois’ All Kids program enrolled about 95,000 children in Medicaid and CHIP, three-quarters of whom had been previously eligible. They just needed to sign up.
Washington State is seeing the Welcome Mat Effect. The Washington Health Benefit Exchange, which is tracking Medicaid enrollment, reports that between October 1, 2013 and February 6, 2014, nearly 185,000 newly eligible adults were enrolled in Medicaid. In addition, the state identified over 53,000 children, nearly 11,000 pregnant women and over 27,000 previously eligible parents who are currently eligible for Medicaid and CHIP. They now have been enrolled and can begin getting vital health benefits.
Dorothy Teeter, Director of the Washington Health Care Authority commented in October on the Welcome Mat Effect. "We continue to see strong numbers for Washington Apple Health enrollment with 2,000 and 3,000 new clients every weekday," she said. "The majority of signups are coming from the newly eligible adult population – exactly what the Affordable Care Act intended. Enrollment trends also remain strong for children and other currently eligible individuals, which is great news in a state that has placed a priority on covering all kids."
Medicaid enrollment as of Thursday, February 6, 2014
Here are the detailed enrollment numbers for October 1 through February 6 in five Medicaid categories.