Medicaid by the numbers

All of this is cribbed from a Viewpoint today in JAMA by Ben Sommers and David Grabowski.

Medicaid beneficiaries in 2017:

  • Total: 77 million people
    • Kids: 34 million
    • Elderly: 6 million
    • Blind and disabled: 9 million
    • Pregnant women: 2 million
    • Parents and childless adults: 27 million

For those of you keeping track at home, this means that only 35% of beneficiaries aren’t kids, old, blind, disabled, and/or pregnant. Remember that when people should say that Medicaid recipients should “try harder”. Also, of that 35%, many already have jobs. Some are stay-at-home parents. So the number of people who could “try harder” isn’t as many as lots of people think.

Under the ACA, it’s projected that 86 million beneficiaries would exist in Medicaid. If repeal and replace happens, it would go down to 77 million.

  • Share of spending (2014)
    • Kids: 19%
    • Elderly: 21%
    • Blind and disabled: 40%
    • Parents and childless adults: 19%

And if you cut, where will it come from? Pregnant women are included in the 19% of parents and childless adults. There’s not that much fat. So do you cut care for kids? For the blind and disabled? For the elderly?

The numbers don’t add up easily. There’s no magic here. People will get “sent” to private plans with huge deductibles. It won’t be better.


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