Obamacare signups are down 15 percent in Louisiana this year, and the 93,000 enrollees mark the lowest level of participants since the individual market came online in 2014. Enrollment is also down 57 percent from its high point in 2016, and Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says that’s because 2016 was the year of the Medicaid expansion.

“Some of the folks who, heretofore, have had to come up with an out of pocket contribution to their premium expense, now are fully covered at no expense in the Medicaid expanded program.”

214,000 enrollees were on the exchange in 2016.

The individual market subsidizes low-income earners seeking health insurance, but Donelon says when the Medicaid expansion kicked in, many of those low-income individuals qualified to switch over to the completely free government insurance.

“It reaches all the way down to individuals earning 100 and 138 percent of the federal poverty level. We do think that that is the bulk of the loss of insured lives.”

Over 500,000 people have enrolled in Medicaid since Governor Edwards accepted the mostly federally funded expansion.

While Donelon puts the bulk of the drop-off on the Medicaid expansion, he does credit the state’s improving economy by putting more workers on employer-based health insurance programs.

“There is a rather significant increase in our small group market year over year, where there are now 3,000 more insured lives in that category.”
Louisiana had the 3rd highest rate of enrollment drop-offs in the nation.

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