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Shockingly High Number of Montana Children on Medicaid

medicaid montana
Photo courtesy of Montana Legislative Services

The Medicaid program in Montana has experienced rapid growth over the past 10 years. Senior Fiscal Analyst for Montana Legislative Services Lois Steinbeck has been working to chart the growth in medicaid since 2002 and has found some startling results.

“Medicaid enrollment grew from a total of about 77,200 Montanans to 113,600 Montanans over those 11 years [2002-2013],” Steinbeck said. “That’s about a 47 percent increase.”

Even though Montana did not agree to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, medicaid enrollment is expected to increase even more with the roll-out of the healthcare exchanges.

The reason why Medicaid enrollment is expected to go up is because of what Steinbeck called “the woodwork effect,” in which people that are eligible for medicaid, but not enrolled in the program, find out about the program while exploring other health insurance options.

As seen in the chart above, a large portion of Medicaid growth occurred when Montana expanded it through the Healthy Montana Kids Program in 2009. The recession occurred simultaneously, driving even more individuals onto Medicaid.

The growth in medicaid enrollment has continued, and now, according to information from the Kid’s Count Data Center, a stunning 38 percent of Montana children receive medical aid either through Montana Healthy Kids or traditional Medicaid.

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