Saturday, November 14, 2020

The COVID-19 Outbreak and Medicaid Enrollment in the Southeast

Because of strong economic conditions prior to 2020, Medicaid, the nation's health insurance program for eligible individuals with limited income and resources, had been experiencing a slight enrollment downtrend in recent years. Medicaid agencies, which administer the program in each state, were expecting more of the same in 2020.  Those expectations quickly changed as the Covid-19 outbreak, which began in China in late 2019, spread rapidly across the nation. Before the new year was even a month old, U.S. officials had declared a public health emergency and soon thereafter efforts to bring the outbreak under control began. Unfortunately, Americans soon discovered that measures that were good for public health were bad for business.  Efforts to control the outbreak have caused an unprecedent, and ongoing, disruption of business activity in the U.S. and widespread economic hardship for millions of Americans. In contrast to pre-pandemic expectations of minimal enrollment growth, between the adverse economic conditions for many individuals and federal efforts to support health insurance coverage during a public health crisis, the number of people on Medicaid rolls has jumped considerably during the first half of 2020.   The most recently published Medicaid enrollment data, which is current as of 7/1/20, reveals enrollment growth of 6.5%, or more than 4 million people, since the beginning of 2020. Moreover, given the scale of the economic hardships and the uncertainty about how long these conditions will last, Medicaid agencies now forecast still more growth in enrollment in the current fiscal year that began this past July.  

Every region of the U.S. has seen a bump in its Medicaid enrollment numbers since the Covid-19 outbreak began. In the twelve-state Southeast region, the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak has been modestly more pronounced, as Medicaid enrollment in the region grew 7.2%, as compared to 6.5% nationally, during the first half of 2020. Here's a quick look at Medicaid enrollment growth at the state and regional level in the Southeast during the first half of 2020:

The COVID-19 Outbreak and Medicaid Enrollment in the Southeast
The COVID-19 Outbreak and Medicaid Enrollment in the Southeast

Medicaid Enrollment (in 000s)
State July 1, 2020 Jan 1, 2020 Growth
AL 791.4 758.7 4.3%
AR 803.2 774.9 3.6%
FL 3,716.7 3,364.1 10.5%
GA 1,729.9 1,618.9 6.9%
KY 1,371.4 1,194.7 14.8%
LA 1,474.3 1,386.5 6.3%
MS 559.1 539.0 3.7%
NC 1,586.6 1,487.2 6.7%
SC 965.0 944.3 2.2%
TN 1,380.7 1,339.9 3.0%
VA 1,361.6 1,266.8 7.5%
WV 494.4 472.3 4.7%
SE Only 16,234.4 15,147.3 7.2%
National 68,826.6 64,621.4 6.5%

Source: Enrollment Reports.