Wisconsin's experience with Medicaid auto-enrollment: lessons for other states

Thomas DeLeire, Lindsey Leininger, Laura Dague, Shannon Mok, Donna Friedsam
Medicare & Medicaid Research Review 2012, 2 (2)
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) relies heavily on the expansion of Medicaid eligibility to cover uninsured populations. In February 2008, Wisconsin expanded and reformed its Medicaid/CHIP program and, as part of program implementation, automatically enrolled a set of newly eligible parents and children. This process of "auto-enrollment" targeted newly eligible parents and older children whose children/siblings were already enrolled in the state's Medicaid/CHIP program. Auto-enrollment brought over 44,000 individuals into the program, representing more than 60% of all enrollees in the first month of the reformed program. Individuals who were auto-enrolled were modestly more likely to leave the program relative to other individuals who enrolled in February 2008, unless their incomes were high enough to be required to pay premiums; these auto-enrollees were much more likely to exit relative to other enrollees subject to premium payments. The higher exit rates exhibited by non-premium paying auto-enrollees were likely due to the fact that over 40% of auto-enrollees were covered by a private insurance policy in the month of their enrollment, compared to approximately 30% for regular enrollees. A national simulation of an auto-enrollment process similar to Wisconsin's, including the expansion of adult Medicaid eligibility to 133% of the federal poverty level under the ACA, suggests that 2.5 million of the 5.6 million newly eligible parents could be auto-enrolled, and approximately 25% of this population would be privately insured. These results suggest that auto-enrollment may be appropriate for other states, especially in their efforts to enroll eligible populations who are not subject to premium requirements.

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