CT Medicaid enrollment at record high under Obamacare

The logo for Husky Healthcare

Department of Social Services / State of Connecticut

The logo for Husky Healthcare

Medicaid enrollment is at a record high in Connecticut, with nearly one in five state residents covered by the program, according to figures from the state Department of Social Services.

At the end of April, 696,007 people were covered by Medicaid, which is known as HUSKY in Connecticut.

Unsurprisingly, the biggest percentage growth occurred among adults who don’t have minor children. The income limit for people in that category to qualify for coverage rose Jan. 1 as part of the federal health law commonly known as Obamacare, from 56 percent of the poverty level to 138 percent.

Enrollment in that part of the program, known as HUSKY D, rose 12 percent between the end of December and the end of January, from 99,103 to 111,020. As of the end of April, it had grown to 137,260.

But another portion of the Medicaid program also saw a significant enrollment increase, even though eligibility requirements remained largely unchanged. That portion, known as HUSKY A, covers low-income children and their parents. It was the largest part of the Medicaid program before Obamacare and remains that way, with 460,103 members as of the end of April.

Access Health CT, the state’s health insurance exchange, began accepting enrollment in private insurance plans and Medicaid on Oct. 1, and there was a major campaign during the fall and winter to sign eligible people up for the program. Some of those who signed up were people eligible for HUSKY A but hadn’t been in the program.

Between the end of September and the end of April, total number of people in HUSKY D rose from 94,058 to 137,260 — a growth of 43,202 people.

During that time, the number covered by HUSKY A grew by 29,792 people, to 460,103 members.

In addition to the outreach efforts, a change in how HUSKY A eligibility was calculated could also have led to increased enrollment. Obamacare changed the way income is calculated for people applying for Medicaid, and it’s possible that some families that didn’t qualify for HUSKY A before now qualify, although it’s not clear how many. Last fall, DSS said the federal government considered the change in calculation method to be cost-neutral, indicating that a significant bump in enrollment was not anticipated.

Medicaid also covers poor seniors and adults who are blind or have disabilities, but that portion of the program was not affected by Obamacare and enrollment has remained relatively steady, with 98,644 members at the end of last month.

Another program that covers children whose parents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid saw an enrollment drop since October. The program, known as HUSKY B, covered 13,187 children at the end of September and 11,824 children at the end of March. (HUSKY B is part of the Children’s Health Program, or CHIP, which is similar to Medicaid but a separate program, and DSS does not count enrollment in HUSKY B in its overall Medicaid figure.)

While enrollment in private insurance plans ended March 31, people who qualify can sign up for Medicaid at any time during the year.

Last week, Access Health officials said 149,013 people had signed up for Medicaid and CHIP since the open enrollment period began in October, but the increase in the total number of people covered doesn’t match that growth.

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