By Stephanie Carson
Public News Service
RALEIGH, N.C. – More than one million North Carolina children benefit from Medicaid coverage, and as the nation’s largest public health-insurance program turns 50 this week, a new report from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families finds Medicare has long-term benefits for children, their parents and North Carolina’s economy.
Michelle Hughes, executive director of NC Child, says the help Medicaid offers is valuable across the board.
“Medicaid is an incredibly important program for North Carolina,” she says. “We know it has a huge benefit for children’s health, and it impacts our adult population’s health. It is a wise public investment.”
Children make up 52 percent of North Carolina’s Medicaid population. Nationally, the uninsured rate for children fell from 14 to seven percent in recent years, partly as a result of Medicaid expansion efforts in some states. Parents who believe their children may qualify for Medicaid coverage can call 1-877-KIDS-NOW.
One of the studies included in the Georgetown report examines the tax payments of a group of people who received Medicaid as children in the 1980s and 90s. Joan Alker, executive director with the Georgetown Center for Children and Families, says by the time the group had reached age 28, the government had recouped 32 cents for every $1 spent on Medicaid.
“Some studies are now finding that children who received Medicaid actually pay more taxes as adults, and use fewer government subsidies,” says Alker. “The government is getting a great return on investment by providing kids with Medicaid.”
As Medicaid celebrates its half-century milestone this week, Hughes says there’s valuable perspective to be gained with the passage of time.
“One of the really great things about Medicaid turning 50 is we now have decades of data that basically shows this is an incredibly important program,” she says.
The Georgetown report also found that children with Medicaid coverage grow up to be healthier adults with decreased incidences of drinking, eating disorders and deaths by treatable causes.