Half of all North Carolina residents (49.9%) have almost no savings to help cover emergencies or save for the future, according to a new report released by The Corporation for Enterprise Development on Tuesday.
The Assets & Opportunity Scorecard ranks states on more than 50 indicators of the financial security across five issue areas. North Carolina ranked a low 45th overall in the ability of residents to achieve financial security, earning “C”s in Education and Housing and Homeownership, a “D” in Financial Assets and Income and two failing grades for Businesses & Jobs and Health Care.
The report also finds one in five North Carolina residents (18.7%) is uninsured, with the poorest 20 percent of households–those least able to absorb the financial shock of a medical emergency–4.2 times more likely to lack insurance than top earners. The uninsured are often one serious illness or accident away from financial insecurity.Health insurance provides important protection for a household’s resources by reducing expenses incurred during treatment or a medical emergency that might otherwise force families to deplete long-term savings, or go into debt.
Strategies to reduced the number of uninsured North Carolinians include leveraging more than $15 billion in federal healthcare dollars to strengthen eligibility for North Carolina’s Medicaid program.The federal health reform law allows states to expand Medicaid to cover adults with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line (an annual income of about $14,850 for an individual and $30,650 for a family of four). Medicaid expansion would occur at no cost to the state for the first three years of implementation,and have only a marginal fiscal impact thereafter. Studies project Medicaid expansion will enable 500,000 North Carolinians to obtain health insurance.