Record 70.4 Million Enrolled in Medicaid in 2011: 1 Out of Every 5 Americans

By Matt Cover | November 9, 2012 | 10:56am EST

(AP Photo)

( – A record 70.4 million people were enrolled in the Medicaid health care program for the poor in fiscal year 2011, according to government figures provided to

That figure equals about 22 percent of the population, which means there was one person on Medicaid for every 5 Americans in 2011.

The record number of Medicaid enrollees in 2011 – the most recent year for which figures are available – is a count of all persons enrolled in Medicaid for any part of that year, providing the fullest and most accurate count of the size of the entitlement program. (The federal fiscal year in 2011 ran from Oct. 1, 2010 to Sept. 30, 2011.)

Figures provided to by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS),  the agency that oversees the two health care entitlements, reveal an ever-expanding Medicaid program. From 2005 to 2011, total enrollees grew by more than 10 million people, going from 60.1 million in 2005 to 70.4 million in 2011.

Medicaid is the joint federal-state health care program for the poor that allows states to extend coverage beyond those who are in poverty. Recently, the ObamaCare health reform law expanded Medicaid eligibility to those living on 133 percent of the federal poverty level.

The poverty level annual income for a family of four is $23,000 – 133 percent of that, in terms of annual income for a family of four, would be $30,590.

That expansion does not go into effect until 2014, however, and therefore does not affect the continued growth trend. Nor does it contribute to the record 70.4 million Americans enrolled in Medicaid.

President Barack Obama. (AP Photo/Luke Sharrett pool)

According to CMS statistics, Medicaid has been growing rapidly since 2008, going from 62.8 million total enrollees to 70.4 million in 2011. Prior to 2008, Medicaid rolls had remained relatively stable, going from 60.1 million in 2005 to just 60.9 million in 2007.

While Medicaid rolls would be expected to rise during a recession, as they did in 2008 and 2009, the last recession ended in June 2009 and Medicaid rolls have expanded faster than during the 2005-2008 period. Medicaid rolls have grown by 5.2 million Americans since 2009 – when the recession ended and the economy began to grow again slightly.

Despite a period of modest gains in employment and economic growth, Medicaid rolls have grown to their record high of 70.4 million Americans.

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