While enrollment on government-run Obamacare exchanges gets the bulk of media attention, sign-ups for Medicaid have been even greater, in no small part due to another part of the Affordable Care Act.
Since October 2013, enrollment in Medicaid and the related Children's Health Insurance Program had grown by about 9.7 million people as of this past October, according to data released Thursday by the federal government. That's 17 percent higher than what was the average monthly enrollment level seen from July through September 2013.
That bump brings total enrollment in the programs that provide coverage without a premium charge to the poor and young, respectively, up to 68.5 million people nationally. A bit more than half of those people are children.
The sharp increase coincides with the October 2013 launch of the Obamacare exchanges, as well as the expansion of eligibility for Medicaid in many states as part of the ACA.
Those exchanges, in certifying peoples' eligibility for coverage for private health plans sold on those marketplaces, direct applicants to Medicaid programs that are jointly run by the federal and state governments if their incomes are low enough to qualify.
At the same time, 26 states and the District of Columbia by October 2014 had expanded eligibility for Medicaid to include nearly all poor adults, in contrast with other states that have less generous eligibility standards and have chosen not to expand.
The Affordable Care Act, as originally written, mandated that all states allow adults who earned below 138 percent of the federal poverty level to enroll in Medicaid. But a 2012 Supreme Court decision said that expansion would have to be left to the discretion of individual states.