Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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June 6, 2014

Health insurance coverage increases in W.Va.

CHARLESTON (AP) — The percentage of residents getting health insurance through two programs has increased more in West Virginia than in almost any other state since Medicaid was expanded under the Affordable Care Act, according to federal data released this week.

The data covers those enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program as of April 30. The Charleston Gazette reports  that nearly 154,000 West Virginians had enrolled in one of the programs since open enrollment began under the federal health care law. That makes for an increase of more than 43 percent in Medicaid and CHIP enrollment, the second largest of any state. Oregon saw enrollment increase by nearly 50 percent.

According to state figures submitted to the federal government, 508,496 West Virginians — more than a quarter of the state’s population — now have health insurance under one of the two programs.

Partially responsible for the state’s increase is the huge number of West Virginians who became newly eligible.

The Affordable Care Act expanded Medicaid eligibility to anyone who makes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, about $33,000 for a family of four. Before that, different states had different eligibility levels, including West Virginia where eligibility for adults was one of the least generous.

Many low-income children and pregnant women could get health insurance through Medicaid or CHIP, but it was difficult for low-income parents to get Medicaid. Parents could only get Medicaid if they made less than 35 percent of the federal poverty level, about $8,300 for a family of four, and adults without children were ineligible.

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