Obamacare Enrollment: 5 States With the Most Surprising Medicaid Numbers

It's certainly no secret that the enrollment numbers for the exchange set up as part of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, looked quite ugly. With the troubles experienced by the HealthCare.gov website and some of the state websites, low numbers for individual insurance plans weren't surprising.

Medicaid enrollment numbers have looked much better, though. In fact, the number of Americans identified as eligible for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, during the period of Oct. 1 through Nov. 2 totaled more than 3.7 times as many as enrolled in individual health plans. Here are five states with surprising Medicaid numbers.

Washington
The state of Washington ranked in the No. 5 spot in terms of Obamacare individual health plan enrollment as a percentage of potential market size. Washington operated its own state exchange and didn't have nearly as many technical problems as the federal website.

It's not surprising, therefore, that Washington would also be among the highest in Medicaid enrollment from the Obamacare exchange. What is surprising is how much better the state performed than the rest of the U.S. Washington's number of individuals determined as eligible for Medicaid or CHIP as a percentage of the state's total Medicaid enrollment was 4.4% -- six times higher than the national percentage.

Kentucky
Kentucky landed in third place among the states with highest Obamacare individual health plan enrollment. The Bluegrass state won praise for how well its exchange operated, particularly in comparison to how HealthCare.gov fared.

The state ranked just behind Washington in the Medicaid enrollment percentage figure -- with 3.59% of the state's total Medicaid enrollment identified as eligible for Medicaid or CHIP through the state's exchange in the first month of operation. That's nearly five times higher than the national percentage and nearly twice that of the next-highest state, Rhode Island. 

New Jersey
New Jersey ranked as the fifth-highest state in terms of Medicaid enrollment percentage numbers, with 1.78% of the state's total Medicaid enrollment identified as eligible for Medicaid or CHIP through the Obamacare exchange during the first month. The surprising thing about New Jersey is that it didn't operate its own exchange -- it used HealthCare.gov.

Utah
Utah ranked just behind New Jersey in Medicaid enrollment percentage, with 1.70% of the state's total Medicaid enrollment identified as eligible for Medicaid or CHIP through the Obamacare exchange during the first month. Like New Jersey, Utah also used HealthCare.gov. Unlike the Garden State, though, Utah isn't expanding its Medicaid program under Obamacare. That makes the state's high position even more surprising.

Oregon
So far, we have focused on states that ranked highly. Oregon, though, ranked at the bottom in terms of Medicaid enrollment. (Note: Colorado, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, and Massachusetts didn't report their numbers.)

Oregon's number of individuals identified as eligible for Medicaid or CHIP totaled 0.075% of the state's total Medicaid enrollment -- well below the national figure of 0.73%. The state ran its own exchange and is expanding the Medicaid program under Obamacare, making this low result quite surprising.

Winning numbers
Some health insurers are fretting about the low Obamacare individual insurance enrollment numbers. However, some are likely pleased with the overall Medicaid numbers.  

WellPoint (NYSE: WLP  ) should benefit from the Medicaid trend. The nation's second-largest health insurer in terms of total members ranks first in terms of Medicaid enrollment -- with 4.3 million Medicaid members. That figure comprises around 12% of WellPoint's total medical membership.

Likewise, the country's largest health insurer, UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH  ) , claims a significant presence in the Medicaid market with more than 3.9 million Medicaid members. Those members make up slightly less than 9% of UnitedHealth's total medical membership.

Aetna (NYSE: AET  ) is another big player standing to gain from positive Obamacare Medicaid enrollment. Over 9% of the company's total membership stems from the hybrid federal/state program. Several big states where Aetna operates are expanding their Medicaid programs under Obamacare, including California, Illinois, and Pennsylvania.

We should keep in mind that the Medicaid numbers released by the Department of Health and Human Services are preliminary. Clearly, though, the Medicaid figures are looking much better than the rest of the Obamacare enrollment numbers. If those Medicaid totals grow even more strongly in the months ahead, these insurers could experience pleasant surprises.

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