Insurers Add One Million Medicaid Patients Amid Failed Obamacare Repeals – Forbes

The number of Medicaid beneficiaries enrolled in managed care plans rose by one million Americans this year to nearly 55 million, according to a new report from consulting firm PwC.

Healthcare advocate groups protest during a rally themed, ‘Our Lives On the Line: A Rally to Protect Our Healthcare,’ to demonstrate against the attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, in Los Angeles pn July 29, 2017.  (Photo: MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

The report comes after the expansion of Medicaid health benefits under the Affordable Care Act survived several attempts by the Republican-led Congress and the Donald Trump White House to take away health coverage from poor people. “2017 marked the year that Medicaid moved to the forefront of the national conversation, as perception – and politics – caught up with the reality that no other social welfare program touches more Americans,” PwC’s Ari Gottlieb, the report’s author wrote in the 17-page analysis released at this week’s Medicaid Health Plans of America annual meeting.

Managed-care plans continue to take on an unprecedented role in providing health coverage to poor Americans thanks in part to more states opting to go along with the ACA’s Medicaid expansion. There have been 31 states that have expanded Medicaid under the ACA and Maine will vote next Tuesday on whether to become the 32nd state to do so.

PwC said 73% of Medicaid beneficiaries–or 54.8 million of the 74.8. million Americans covered by the health benefit program for the poor–are enrolled in private plans that contract with the Medicaid program. That’s an increase of 1.5% from last year’s report that showed 53.7 million people in private Medicaid plans.

Though total enrollment in Medicaid increased by just 98,000, or about one-tenth of a percentage point, the share managed by private insurers is rising as states shift more of their Medicaid population to managed care plans. This is good news for health insurance companies like Aetna, Anthem, Centene, Humana, UnitedHealth Group and Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans.

Growth of Medicaid managed-care is coming from states where governors and state legislatures are moving, generally in a bipartisan fashion, to private administration of the government program.

“Today, 12 states have at least 90% of Medicaid populations covered by private plans, up from nine last year , and only four in 2013,” PWC’s Gottlieb wrote in his report. “And, five states have 99% or more of their (Medicaid) beneficiaries in a private plan, up from only two last year .”

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