The 2021 calendar year saw continued increases among Health First Colorado (Colorado’s Medicaid Program) enrollment steady decreases in Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+). The total number of people enrolled in Health First Colorado MAGI programs and CHP+ programs increased by 129,579 or 10.3 % from the beginning of January to the end of December 2021.
The total number of adults, pregnant adults, and children enrolled in Health First Colorado MAGI programs increased by 141,851 or 11.8 % from the beginning of January to the end of December 2021.
[Additional details and graphs are available in CKF’s 2021 Year-in-Review Health First Colorado and CHP+ Enrollment Analysis]
The following are some of the polices and events that impacted enrollment in 2021:
COVID-19 Continuous Eligibility Requirements: The Continuous Eligibility (CE) requirement during the Public Health Emergency required states to maintain eligibility for benefits who were enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP on or after March 18, 2020. Due to the CE requirement, very few Health First Colorado members have been losing coverage. Since members can be moved to coverage with more expansive benefits, some children likely transitioned from CHP+ to Health First Colorado as their family’s income decreased.
Rate of Unemployment: Colorado’s unemployment rate continued to slowly decrease over the course of the year, from 6.6% in January to 4.8% in December. In 2020 and 2021, many Coloradans likely became eligible for Health First Colorado or CHP+ benefits for the first time due to job loss or changes in work. Even though many of these individuals likely returned to work, as seen by the decrease in unemployment, many maintained eligibility for Health First Colorado because of the CE. The unemployment rate may explain, in part, why the adult population in Health First Colorado is increasing at a higher rate than children’s enrollment.
Additional Factors: Additional factors that may have impacted enrollment include return to in-person schooling and school-based outreach and enrollment, remaining fear of public charge, and individuals who became newly eligible for coverage enrolling, such as COFA migrants and Afghan evacuees.