The number of Medicaid applications filed in South Carolina dropped nearly 23 percent in December, according to new federal data released Wednesday afternoon.

The number of applications filed in states that chose to expand eligibility for the low-income health insurance program saw a 14.4 percent increase during the same time period.

In South Carolina, 20,817 new Medicaid applications were filed in December, compared to an average 26,947 per month earlier last year. An official at the South Carolina Medicaid agency said it's normal for the number of applications submitted in December to be lower than other months.

Across the country, the federal government estimates 6.5 million applications were filed for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program between Oct. 1 and the end of December.

South Carolina is one of about half of all states that have opted out of the new Medicaid expansion. More than 1 million residents in this state already are enrolled in the program. Expansion under the Affordable Care Act would have made several hundred thousand more South Carolinians eligible.