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Expand chart
Data: Company filings, CMS, Kaiser Family Foundation; Chart: Michelle McGhee/Axios

National Medicaid enrollment hit a record 80.5 million this past January, as Congress provided extra funding for states to retain and sign up more low-income adults and children during the coronavirus pandemic.

Between the lines: Because more states have outsourced their Medicaid programs to private health insurers, this pandemic-fueled growth also has been a boon for some of the largest insurance companies.

State of play: Health insurers have been pursuing more revenue from government health programs, including Medicaid.

  • Seven out of 10 Medicaid enrollees are in a plan run by an insurance company, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
  • That would mean roughly 55.5 million of the 80.5 million people now on Medicaid are in a privately run plan.
  • And of those 55.5 million, roughly two-thirds are in a plan owned by five dominant insurance companies.
  • Centene covers 13.6 million Medicaid enrollees, the most of any company. Centene acquired WellCare last year and is now so large, it essentially functions as a branch of state and federal governments.

Worth noting: "The evidence is thin that these contractors improve patient care or save government money," Chad Terhune reported for Kaiser Health News in 2018.

Go deeper: Medicaid will be a coronavirus lifeline

Go deeper

Jun 21, 2021 - Health

Health care spending is picking up

Data: Altarum Institute; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The coronavirus pandemic forced hospitals and patients to delay care — everything from heart procedures and knee replacement surgeries to lab tests and X-rays — but people have been flocking back to their doctors as coronavirus cases wane.

Why it matters: A return to normal levels of care means health care spending is back on the rise, which will continue to strain governmental budgets and people's paychecks.

Mike Allen, author of AM
6 mins ago - Politics & Policy

America's "Friendscape" crisis

New research shows Americans have fewer friends than in the past, and are less likely to have a best friend.

  • Why it matters: At a time of excruciating mental and societal stress, this is another sign we're breaking apart. And the friendship drought could get worse with more people working remotely or hybrid-ly.

Pelosi says it's her "plan" to appoint GOP Rep. Kinzinger to Jan. 6 committee

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Sunday that it is her "plan" to appoint Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) to the House select committee investigating the deadly Jan 6. Capitol riots.

Why it matters: Pelosi's statement to ABC's "This Week" comes after she rejected two of the five Republican appointments offered by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).