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New Medicaid enrollment tops 7M under Obamacare

New Medicaid enrollment tops 7M under Obamacare

HEALTH CARE: Supporters of the Affordable Care Act, widely referred to as "Obamacare", gather outside the Jackson-Hinds Comprehensive Health Center in Jackson, Mississippi. The enrollees include uninsured Americans who gained coverage through traditional Medicaid, as well as a special Medicaid expansion in 26 of the 50 U.S. states under President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Bachman

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – More than seven million Americans have gained health coverage through government programs including Medicaid since enrollment in Obamacare health insurance was launched Oct. 1, the U.S. administration said on Friday.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said 7.2 million new participants in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program by June brought overall Medicaid enrollment to 66 million people.

The enrollees include uninsured Americans who gained coverage through traditional Medicaid, as well as a special Medicaid expansion in 26 of the 50 U.S. states under President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

Traditional Medicaid programs often cover only a patchwork of poor individuals, including pregnant women and disabled elderly.

The Obamacare expansion extends coverage to all Americans earning up to 133 percent of the federal poverty line, or $15,521 for an individual and $31,720 for a family of four.

Two dozen states, many led by Republicans opposed to Obamacare, have not expanded Medicaid coverage. HHS said 5.7 million low-income people remain uninsured in those states.

States that expanded Medicaid have seen enrollment surge 18.5 percent, while those that have not expanded the program registered only a 4 percent increase, according to HHS.

The Medicaid expansion is a centerpiece of the healthcare reform law, which also created new online marketplaces to provide federally subsidized private health insurance plans that have enrolled an additional 8 million people.

Open enrollment for private insurance ended in the spring. Medicaid enrollment remains open year round.

The administration has been unable to say how many new enrollees obtained private or public coverage for the first time under Obamacare.

A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine estimated that 10.3 million uninsured Americans have gained coverage through the marketplaces and Medicaid, resulting in a 5.2 percentage point drop in the U.S. uninsured rate since last September.

The study was produced by researchers from HHS, the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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