Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
Texas Medicaid enrollment increasing despite Affordable Care Act

Texas Medicaid enrollment increasing despite Affordable Care Act

texas-medicaid-enrollment-increasing-despite-affordable-care-act- image0According to a recent Associated Press story, the number of Texans enrolled in Medicaid has increased by 80,000. This brings the number of Texans on Medicaid to more than 4.5 million.

What is interesting is this growth occurred despite the fact that Texas decided not to expand Medicaid as part of the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). This is all of great interest to Texas health care providers since we have the nation’s highest uninsured rate.

You may recall that under the ACA eligibility would have increased to up to 133 percent of the federal poverty line. The expansion of Medicaid was a key component of the ACA, but was determined to be optional by the U.S. Supreme Court. According to the the Kaiser Family Foundation, an estimated 875,000 Texans are eligible for Medicaid but have not applied.

Texas Tech Physicians is proud to serve persons of all backgrounds, including those with limited financial resources and that certainly includes individuals on Medicaid. Last fiscal year, we provided care to 24,776 patients with Medicaid as their insurance carrier. This generated $36,695,977 in charges and $11,728,332 in collections. Overall, the percentage of patients who have Medicaid is about 22 percent.

A side note — We also received $4,922,153 in uncompensated care dollars in fiscal year 2013. These are funds we earned to help offset expenses in treating Medicare patients and others with limited resources.

According to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, participation in Medicaid and CHIP is rising in nearly all states. Why is this? Well, according to those who study such matters, it is probably because of the national buzz created by the launch of the act. It seems all the conversation may have raised awareness and informed many people that they were indeed eligible.

Also, the ACA’s simplified sign-up process may have been a positive, according to those same experts. Even though Texas did not expand Medicaid, the criteria for eligibility here and elsewhere did broaden slightly. For example, ACA raised from 21 to 26 the age at which people formerly in the foster care system have to give up their Medicaid coverage.

Another interesting fact regarding Texans and their health care coverage — 734,000 Texans have signed up for private health insurance plans via the federal marketplace since the ACA’s roll out.