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Howard Co. tops Medicaid enrollment growth list

Maryland’s health insurance exchange continues to process new enrollees, mostly in Medicaid, but also through “special enrollments” in private plans for people who have experienced a qualifying life event, like switching jobs or getting married.

Howard County experienced the greatest growth in Medicaid enrollment, followed by Worcester County, according to data released Friday by state officials.

Howard’s Medicaid population grew by 33.4 percent from December 2013 to April 2014, when 37,012 people were enrolled. Worcester’s Medicaid population grew by 33 percent during that period, reaching 12,058.

But in absolute terms, Baltimore city gained the most new beneficiaries: 53,658 city residents joined the program during the period, bringing the total Medicaid population there to 267,351 people as of April — the largest of any jurisdiction in the state.

Prince George’s has the second largest Medicaid population, with 204,484 people enrolled in the program as of April.

The county-by-county enrollment data was included in a report issued Friday by the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, the entity that operates the Maryland Health Connection website.

Since October, 411,434 people have signed up for insurance via Maryland Health Connection as of July 26, the report said.

Of that total, about 332,500 gained Medicaid coverage in January and remain actively enrolled.

A total of 78,930 people have chosen a private plan sold via the exchange. That total does not include people who enrolled directly with insurance carriers.

Exchange officials have released regular enrollment reports since the site launched in October.

This week, however, officials reported for the first time the net change in Medicaid enrollment. This figure takes into account the number of people who left the Medicaid program because of increases in income or other eligibility changes.

Compared to December of last year, officials said the net increase in Medicaid enrollment is actually 273,245 (as of July 26). Based on those figures, more than 59,200 people placed out of Medicaid coverage.

It’s unclear whether those people gained another type of coverage or became uninsured.