Want More People to Have Health Insurance? Look to Louisiana

Employee benefits consultant broker New Jersey

Six years after Obamacare became law, some 30 million Americans still lack health insurance. Louisiana has found a trick to get a great number of them to sign up for Medicaid.

The policy is based on a simple coincidence: Medicaid and the federal food stamp program have almost the same income threshold, at least in the 31 states that have expanded their Medicaid programs under Obamacare. The Bayou State has decided to automatically check to see whether the residents who receive food stamps also qualify for Medicaid — and if so, to reach out and sign them up. This approach will at once lower the state’s uninsured rate (one of the highest in the country) and cut Medicaid’s administrative costs.

The strategy seems so obvious, it’s a wonder no other state has made it policy. Nationwide, some 8.8 million people who are eligible for Medicaid have not enrolled. To put that in perspective, it’s more than the number of people who are eligible for subsidized Obamacare insurance plans but haven’t signed up, more than the number who lack insurance because their states have refused to cooperate in the Medicaid expansion, and more than the number who can’t get insurance because they’re in the country illegally.

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