California: BOOM. ACA-enabled Medicaid reaches 2.6 Million (87% of total eligible)

When I last checked in on ACA Medicaid expansion in California back in mid-September, it had reached a whopping 2.2 million...or possibly as high as 2.55 million, depending on whether the number included a massive backlog of 350,000 CA residents.

Well, it now seems that not only has that question been answered, but the grand total is a bit higher yet: 2.6 million low-income Californians can thank Obamacare for their newfound healthcare coverage:

The state Medi-Cal system has taken on 2.7 million more Californians since October 2013.

That's an increase of 31% from the 8.6 million previously enrolled. The jump brings the current number of Californians in the Medi-Cal program to 11.3 million -- roughly 30% of the state's population. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.

A few things to note: First, while the net increase in Medi-Cal has gone up 2.7 million, about 100,000 of those appear to be "baseline churn"...that is, people who were already in the program previously who had moved off for awhile and then back on again. We know this by doing some simple math from farther down the entry:

At a state Senate Committee on Health hearing Oct. 30, Department of Health Care Services Director Toby Douglas, laid out a few updated numbers:

11.3 million residents now are enrolled in Medi-Cal, including an additional 2.7 million since October 2013;
About 18% of those 11.3 million Californians were newly eligible under Medi-Cal expansion;
About 5% of the 11.3 million were previously eligible for Medi-Cal;

  • 18% of 11.3M = 2.03 million "strict expansion"
  • 5% of 11.3M = 565,000 "woodworkers"
  • Add them together and you get 2.599 million

These numbers represent some minor shifting of my prior estimates (700K woodworkers, 1.5 million strict expansion + 350K backlog), but are still in the same ballpark.

Second, this would appear to answer my other question as well: The earlier 2.2M figure did not appear to include the backlog, whereas this new number does (unless another 350K have popped up over the past month or so, which even I find difficult to believe).

So, in addition to wiping out pretty much all of the backlog, the other interesting news here is that California also appears to have reached 87% of their total eligible Medicaid expansion population. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, CA had roughly 2.98 million uninsured residents eligible for Medi-Cal last fall.

And so, in one shot, my estimate of the national ACA Medicaid expansion total jumps up another 400K or so, to 11.7 million due to the CA backlog finally being caught up.