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Informing Policy. Advancing Health.

Number of Adults Eligible for Medicaid Reaches Historic High

Colorado has seen unprecedented growth in the number of adults who are eligible for Medicaid, a reflection of sweeping changes in state and federal health policy.

An annual count by the Colorado Health Institute shows that at the start of the Medicaid expansion in January, an estimated 258,000 adults were eligible for but not enrolled (EBNE). This includes the newly eligible as well as people who were already eligible but hadn’t enrolled.

We used data from the 2012 American Community Survey and the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing – the most recent data available –for this analysis. 

Of the 258,000 EBNE adults, approximately 187,000 were adults without dependent children (AwDCs) and the other 71,000 were parents.

Many parents were already eligible for Medicaid before the expansion, with 23,510 becoming eligible when the eligibility cutoff was raised from 100 percent to 138 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). But very few AwDCs were eligible before the January expansion. Nearly all AwDCs with incomes up to 138 percent of FPL are now eligible.

It is important to note that these estimates provide baseline data for the number of adults who were EBNE at the start of the Medicaid expansion. Many adults – about 100,000 - have since enrolled in Medicaid.

CHI also analyzed the characteristics of Colorado’s adult EBNE population, which gives us baseline data to measure the impact of the Medicaid expansion.


About 60 percent of parents were employed, compared to approximately half of AwDCs.


Overall, EBNE adults were less likely to have a high school or college degree compared to the general population. Parents were about twice as likely to lack a high school diploma or equivalent (29.4 percent) as AwDCs (15.6 percent).

Language Status

Forty percent of parents reported speaking Spanish at home compared to 17 percent of AwDCs.

Make sure to check out the EBNE brief and data supplement for more information about Colorado’s adult EBNE population – including where they live and why they report being uninsured.