Pandemic-Era Medicaid Enrollees Shifting To Obamacare In A Big Way

One of the nation’s largest health insurance companies is seeing a big boost in individual enrollment under the Affordable Care Act in part from consumers who had been covered by Medicaid during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Elevance Health, which operates Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in 14 states, is seeing thousands of Americans formerly covered by Medicaid shift to individual coverage on the ACA’s exchanges as states unwind the “continuous coverage requirement” implemented at the beginning of the pandemic to ensure people retained health benefits.

Elevance Health’s 18.2% increase in individual health insurance enrollment to 949,000 in the second quarter was the biggest percentage increase among all of the types of health plans the company sells, according to the health insurance company’s earnings report released Wednesday. By comparison, Elevance’s total membership in the quarter grew by 2%, or 938,000, to 48 million as of June 30, 2023 compared to a year ago. Meanwhile, Elevance Health’s Medicaid enrollment was up 5% to 11.7 million compared to the year-ago period but down 1% from 11.8 million at the end of the first quarter.

With states escalating the so-called “Medicaid redetermination process” since the US public health emergency ended in May, many analysts fear health insurance companies will lose a lot of Medicaid business. And they may still with a new William Blair Equity Research report out Wednesday citing data that indicates “nearly 2 million people have been dis-enrolled from Medicaid to date, though the process still has a long way to go.”

Medicaid redetermination, also described as Medicaid renewal or Medicaid recertification, is essentially when people are asked to show they are qualified for such coverage.

“Many of the people who have lost access to Medicaid so far, are losing it for administrative reasons,” Elevance Health president and CEO Gail K. Boudreaux told analysts on a call Wednesday morning to discuss second quarter earnings. “We expect many of these consumers will re-enroll in Medicaid over time.”

But Elevance Health’s second quarter earnings report told the story of consumers moving to Obamacare as well, which is good news for insurers worried about losing a big chunk of their Medicaid business.

“Transitions of coverage are not typically immediate, but emerging data points suggest consumers losing Medicaid are starting to transition onto ACA exchange plans,” Boudreaux told analysts. “It’s still early in the process.”

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