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Modeling by Health Management Associates found that the COVID-19 pandemic could raise Connecticut’s Medicaid rolls 15% to 32% by mid-2020, depending on how much unemployment grows.

Connecticut residents with employer-sponsored coverage could drop by 130,000 to 382,000 and insurance exchange coverage through Access Health CT could grow by 8,000 to 33,000. The forecast uses estimates for low (10% unemployment), medium (17.5%) and high (25%) national unemployment rate scenarios. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. unemployment rate was 3%.

Interestingly, the number of uninsured in Connecticut could drop modestly in the lowest unemployment scenario. This is likely because a loss of income will allow more people to qualify for Medicaid and subsidized coverage on the insurance exchange through Access Health CT. If unemployment skyrockets, the model forecasts that 77,000 more state residents will lose coverage. The Census reported 187,000 Connecticut residents or 5.3% were uninsured in 2018.

The forecast predicts that unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic will shift millions of Americans from employer-sponsored coverage to Medicaid, insurance exchanges, and to uninsurance. It’s expected that national enrollment in Medicaid and the number of uninsured will rise. However, the model predicts little net change in exchange enrollment with the number of Americans losing income and coming into those plans roughly equally the number losing income and qualifying for Medicaid. The rates of uninsured are expected to be much higher in states that, unlike Connecticut, chose not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Ellen Andrews, PhD, is the executive director of the CT Health Policy Project. Follow her on Twitter @CTHealthNotes.

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