Census report: Medicaid is most popular government assistance program

A recent report issued by the United States Census Bureau summarized the results of a survey of participants in six government assistance programs during the years 2009 to 2012, and found that approximately 52.2 million people in the United States participated in such programs monthly in 2012, with Medicaid being the most popular. The study determined that 15.3 percent of the population, on average, participated in Medicaid monthly during 2012, which made it even more popular than the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP).

Overall participation leveling off

The study examined six federal assistance programs, including Medicaid, SNAP, housing assistance, Supplemental Security Income, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and General Assistance. It revealed that, while the monthly participation rates in Medicaid increased from 2009-2012, the overall rate of participation in government assistance programs remained the same from 2011 to 2012.

Length of Medicaid participation

The study also determined how long individuals, on average, participated in Medicaid, with 35.6 percent enrolled between one and 12 months and 35.3 percent enrolled between 37 and 48 months. Additionally, about three-quarters of individuals living in poverty participated in government assistance programs for an average of between 37 and 48 months from January 2009 to December 2012.

According to Shelley Irving, an analyst with the Census Bureau’s Social, Economic and Housing Statistics Division, the survey showed how frequently participants use governmental assistance programs, and that such participation is “dynamic,” with individuals moving in and out of the programs.