Nevada’s Medicaid enrollments swelled higher than projected in the last quarter of 2013 as people who were eligible but never signed up before sought health insurance coverage mandated under the federal health care overhaul, officials said Thursday.
From October through the end of December, the Medicaid caseload increased by 10,483 to 341,106, said Mike Willden, Health and Human Services director.
The growth exceeds original projections by 5,000.
“Although we anticipated increased growth, the activity has been more vigorous than we initially projected,” Willden said, adding that an advertising campaign launched last fall “encouraged Nevadans to take action and seek health insurance coverage.”
Another enrollment surge is anticipated as thousands of low-income Nevadans not previously qualified for Medicaid became eligible as of Jan. 1. For the first time in Nevada, adults without children who meet the income threshold of 138 percent of the federal poverty level will be eligible for Medicaid coverage.
“We will not see the numbers that include the newly eligible population until the January statistics are compiled,” Willden said.
He said the department typically processes about 12,000 applications monthly for both Medicaid and Nevada Check Up, the state’s insurance program for low-income children. But applications in December tripled and the agency has more than 38,000 waiting to be processed.
Another report to be presented later Thursday to the board overseeing Nevada’s insurance exchange shows 17,946 people who shopped for private insurance through the online portal have confirmed plan selections, while about 23,000 have chosen stand-alone dental coverage.
The biggest demand has been in southern Nevada, where enrollments account for 68 percent of the total. Rural areas made up just 2 percent.
The exchange has an enrollment target of 118,000 by the end of March, the deadline for people to sign up to avoid tax penalties.
Before the health care law, about 600,000 Nevadans, roughly 22 percent, lacked health insurance. Willden said that percentage is expected to drop to 10 percent by the end of 2015.