A sizable number of uninsured residents are gaining health benefits for the first time, thanks to the health law’s expanded eligibility threshold.
Medicaid Expansion Cuts Number Of Uninsured West Virginians By A Third
Credit: Flickr
January 21, 2014

I know what these new Medicaid clients mean. Once I got covered under the federal preexisting condition plan, I could breathe again. And this is what we as a people are reduced to: With the austerity mania, in the richest country in the world, we have people struggling to stay sheltered, fed, treated for medical problems. We can't take care of the unemployed, but we have all the money in the world for defense contracts and endless war. I guess we should be grateful for what crumbs we get:

According to the New York Times, about 75,000 Wast Virginia residents have enrolled in Medicaid since Obamacare’s open enrollment season launched in October. While a portion of that consists of people who already had Medicaid benefits and are simply re-enrolling in the program, a sizable number of uninsured residents are gaining health benefits for the first time, thanks to the health law’s expanded eligibility threshold that allows anyone earning up 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) to enroll in Medicaid. In fact, the number of uninsured people in the states has already been reduced by a third.

An analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) finds that the Medicaid expansion will eventually reduce West Virginia’s uninsurance rate by a staggering 67 percent.

That’s particularly important in a state with sky-high rates of chronic illness and poverty. The Times highlights Sharon Mills, a disabled nurse with diabetes who had to rely on free samples and the kindness of strangers to afford her medication. “The heavy thing that was pressing on me is gone,” Mills said, describing her feelings of relief about gaining health insurance under the Medicaid expansion.

Expansion has been having a similar effect throughout the country. Oregon reduced its uninsurancee rate by 10 percent in just the first two weeks of October thanks to the expansion; all told, about four million people have enrolled in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) since Obamacare’s open enrollment period began. In states that expanded Medicaid, applications spiked by 15 percent in October compared to the previous three months, and applications have been rising even in the states that didn’t expand Medicaid.

Some believe this is due to “the woodwork effect,” where people who didn’t know they qualified for public insurance are signing up for insurance thanks to intense media coverage of Obamacare.

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