Healthy children perform better in school and in life. All children need access to high-quality and affordable health insurance, preventive health care, a medical home, and specialized services when necessary.
While children and families face multiple barriers to accessing health care, the foremost barrier is the lack of health insurance. In North Carolina, children who lack health insurance are more likely to forgo or delay medical care and have less access to health care services. One in every 11 children in North Carolina (9.4%) is uninsured. Among low-income households (families earning less than 200% of the Federal Poverty Level–about $44,000 for a family of four in 2011), the percentage of uninsured children is even higher (12.8% in 2011).
NC Child works to lay the foundation for a healthier future by strengthening the programs that preserve access to health insurance for our state’s most vulnerable children: Medicaid and North Carolina Health Choice, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Despite high unemployment and declining family economic security, Medicaid and NC Health Choice have helped to safeguard children’s access to health insurance, providing roughly one in every two children in the state (1.1 million) with the medical coverage they need to remain in good health.
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NC Child and its legacy organizations have a long history of successfully advocating for policies and programs that improve birth outcomes for children in North Carolina. And despite our progress since the late 1980s, unacceptable racial disparities persist and North Carolina still ranks in the bottom 20% nationwide in infant mortality prevention.
NC Child works to improve birth outcomes and reduce racial and ethnic disparities by pursuing the following strategies:
• Medicaid Expansion—Medicaid expansion will improve birth outcomes by improving the preconception health of low-income women.
• Medicaid Reform—As the state moves forward with Medicaid reform, we will work to maintain the pregnancy home provided by Community Care of NC.
• Perinatal Health Strategic Plan—NC Child is working with the Department of Health and Human Services and other stakeholders to develop a statewide plan for improving birth outcomes and reducing disparities.
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NC Child works with and supports the newly-formed NC Oral Health Collaborative to improve children’s oral health.
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Across measures of individual and community health there are persistent health gaps by race, ethnicity, income, and other key factors. Often these differences are preventable and can be perpetuated by inequitable policies, programs, and practices in public health (however unintentional), as well as the disparate social and economic conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and age. Eliminating health disparities in North Carolina will require intentional efforts to enhance the health and well-being of residents across multiple areas.
NC Child in partnership with the Division of Public Health Women’s Health Branch and the Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities have partnered to develop a tool – the North Carolina Health Equity Impact Assessment – that enables decision makers to intentionally focus and align strategies to reduce health disparities.