As expected, Medicaid enrollment has risen during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report published on the JAMA Network.

But necessarily for the reason that might be expected.

According to the report, Medicaid enrollment rose from 48.2 million to 51.8 million between January 2019 and September 2020, or 1.6 percent, in Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansion states and from 17.2 million to 18.8 million, or 1.4 percent, in non-Medicaid expansion states.While a natural assumption would be that growth in Medicaid enrollment would track growth in pandemic-caused growth in unemployment, the analysis found the opposite to be true:  “…enrollment growth was greater in states with smaller changes in unemployment in 2020.”


The study’s authors theorize that

This may indicate that Medicaid growth is associated with factors other than job loss, including reduced work hours making more people eligible, greater focus on health care during the pandemic, and the maintenance of effort requirement passed by Congress in March 2020, which offered states more funding in exchange for a requirement that they not disenroll anyone from Medicaid during the public health emergency.

Learn more about growth in Medicaid enrollment during the COVID-19 public health emergency in the JAMA Network article “Changes in US Medicaid Enrollment During the COVID-19 Pandemic.”