A TRUSTED INDEPENDENT HEALTH INSURANCE GUIDE SINCE 1999.
Call our agency partners 866-553-3223

Featured

Featured
13 qualifying life events that trigger ACA special enrollment
Outside of open enrollment, a special enrollment period allows you to enroll in an ACA-compliant plan (on or off-exchange) if you experience a qualifying life event.

Latest News & Topics

Latest News & Topics

Featured

Featured
Finalized federal rule reduces total duration of short-term health plans to 4 months
A finalized federal rule will impose new nationwide duration limits on short-term limited duration insurance (STLDI) plans. The rule – which applies to plans sold or issued on or after September 1, 2024 – will limit STLDI plans to three-month terms, and to total duration – including renewals – of no more than four months.
Call our agency partners 866-553-3223

Medicaid expansion

What is Medicaid expansion?

healthinsurance.org health insurance glossary

What is Medicaid expansion?

A provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) called for the expansion of Medicaid eligibility to cover more low-income Americans. Under the expansion guidelines, Medicaid eligibility is extended to adults under age 65 with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level/FPL (133% plus a 5% income disregard).

Pre-ACA, Medicaid was generally never available to non-disabled adults under age 65 unless they had minor children. And even then, the income caps to qualify as a parent/caretaker were very low. By expanding Medicaid, the ACA created a viable pathway to coverage for millions of low-income adults.

Why are there some states that haven't implemented Medicaid expansion?

The ACA called for Medicaid expansion nationwide. But in June 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that states could not be forced to expand their Medicaid programs, so it was left to each state to determine whether to participate or not.

When Medicaid expansion took effect in 2014, it was only available in 26 states and DC. In the ensuing years, there has been a slow but steady increase in the number of states implementing Medicaid expansion. As of early 2024, Medicaid had been expanded in 40 states and the District of Columbia (see list below). Oklahoma, Missouri, South Dakota, and North Carolina are the most recent states to have expanded Medicaid, all doing so between 2021 and 2023.

Wisconsin is not counted among the Medicaid expansion states, but the rules are different there. Wisconsin has implemented what essentially amounts to a partial expansion of Medicaid, and has no coverage gap (described below) because Medicaid is available to low-income adults with income below the poverty level.

But because Wisconsin has not fully expanded Medicaid as called for in the ACA (ie, Medicaid is not available in Wisconsin to adults with income between 100% and 138% of the poverty level), the state does not receive the enhanced federal Medicaid funding that it would receive if it fully expanded Medicaid.

Georgia partially expanded Medicaid in the summer of 2023, using an approach similar to Wisconsin’s (ie, it still counts as a non-expansion state), and also incorporating a work requirement. Like Wisconsin, Georgia is not receiving the enhanced federal funding that would be available if the state were to fully expand Medicaid.

How is Medicaid expansion funded?

The federal government is financing most of the cost of expanding Medicaid, and a small portion is being paid by participating states. The costs for enrollees who are newly eligible under the expanded guidelines were covered 100% by the federal government until the end of 2016. The states then gradually started paying a portion of the cost, reaching 10% by 2020.

The funding will remain at the 90/10 split going forward, with the federal government always paying 90% of the cost of covering the population that became newly eligible due to the expansion of Medicaid.

The states that refuse to expand Medicaid only receive their normal federal Medicaid funding, rather than the enhanced 90% funding that they would receive to cover the newly eligible population if they were to expand coverage (in the Medicaid expansion states, the normal federal funding still applies for the populations that were already eligible pre-expansion).

As noted above, the federal government does not provide this funding unless a state fully expands Medicaid. So Wisconsin and Georgia continue to receive their normal federal match for Medicaid funding, and Utah was unable to secure Medicaid expansion funding until Medicaid was fully expanded (Utah initially implemented a partial expansion of Medicaid, but did not receive enhanced federal funding for it).


How many people are enrolled in coverage due to Medicaid expansion?

As of 2019, there were about 10 million people who had become newly eligible for Medicaid due to the ACA’s expanded eligibility guidelines. But the COVID pandemic drove the enrollment numbers significantly higher: As of 2022, about 21 million Medicaid enrollees had gained eligibility due to Medicaid expansion.

That number has since declined somewhat, due to the “unwinding” of the pandemic-related Medicaid continuous coverage rule (disenrollments resumed in the spring of 2023, after a three-year pause).

Total enrollment in Medicaid/CHIP was 49% higher in the fall of 2023 than it had been a decade earlier (a growth of more than 29 million people), despite the fact that there are still ten states that haven’t expanded Medicaid, and despite the fact that post-pandemic disenrollments had resumed several months earlier.



What is the Medicaid coverage gap?

In the states that have not expanded Medicaid, there’s a coverage gap that leaves about 1.5 million people ineligible for any sort of affordable coverage. These people are not eligible for premium subsidies in the marketplace because their income is under the poverty level. But they are also ineligible for Medicaid because their states have refused to implement Medicaid expansion.

According to US Census data, the percentage of people below the poverty level who are uninsured is more than twice as high in states that haven’t expanded Medicaid, compared with states that have. To be clear, this is due to the decisions that their states have made, rather than a flaw in the ACA itself. The states could opt to accept federal funding to expand Medicaid at any time, thus closing the coverage gap.

Five states — Texas, Florida, Georgia, and Alabama — account for the lion’s share of the coverage gap population, and they are among the 10 states where Medicaid expansion is still a contentious issue and the legislature and/or governor are still strongly opposed to accepting federal funding to expand Medicaid.

For people in the coverage gap who received unemployment compensation for at least one week in 2021, the American Rescue Plan provided eligibility for premium subsidies. But this was a temporary provision for 2021.

The Build Back Better Act would have provided federal subsidies for four years to people in the coverage gap, allowing them to purchase premium-free coverage with enhanced benefits that leave them with very little out-of-pocket costs. That legislation passed the House in the fall of 2021, but stalled in the Senate due to objections from all GOP Senators as well as two Democrats.

There were ongoing negotiations in 2022 about federal funding to close the Medicaid coverage gap. But ultimately, the Inflation Reduction Act was enacted in 2022 without any provision to close the Medicaid coverage gap (it did, however, extend some of the American Rescue Plan subsidy enhancements, and also provided significant benefit improvements for people with Medicare drug coverage).

Which states have expanded Medicaid?

As of early 2024, Medicaid has been expanded in 40 states and Washington, D.C. 

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut (for parents, eligibility extends to 160% FPL)
  • Delaware
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota 
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Washington, D.C. (eligibility extends to 215% FPL)
  • West Virginia

Which states have refused to expand Medicaid?

As of early 2024, the following states have not yet accepted federal funding to expand Medicaid:

  • Alabama
  • Florida
  • Georgia (partial expansion in mid-2023, with a work requirement)
  • Kansas
  • Mississippi
  • South Carolina (no coverage gap for parents of minor children)
  • Tennessee (very little coverage gap for parents of minor children)
  • Texas
  • Wisconsin (no coverage gap)
  • Wyoming
sticky-bottom-cta

Get your free quote now through licensed agency partners!