High-quality, affordable health care helps parents work and support their children.

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Parents can’t get to work, or take care of their children, when they’re not healthy. Unfortunately in North Carolina approximately 500,000 North Carolinians don’t earn enough to buy private health insurance, but earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. Closing this “coverage gap” would provide over 100,000 parents the improved health and access to the care they need to thrive, which in turn improves children’s health and development. (i, ii)

Failing to close the coverage gap impacts parents, families and kids

North Carolina is one of seventeen states that has not taken advantage of available federal funding to expand access to health insurance. (iii) Closing the health insurance coverage gap in North Carolina would:

● Reduce the chance that families will experience financial strain due to medical bills; (iv)

● Improve women’s prenatal health, leading to more healthy births and a greater decline in the infant mortality rate; (v)

● Improve children’s health insurance rate. Parents are more likely to enroll Medicaid – eligible children when they are covered themselves. (vi)

● Help decrease maternal depression, supporting children’s healthy social – emotional development; (vii) and

● Keep working parents healthier, missing fewer work days. Good health care also helps non-workers search for and retain new jobs. (viii)

The Opportunity

In 2017, lawmakers introduced HB 662, Carolina Cares, a bill that would increase access to health insurance up to 138 percent of federal poverty level. Despite having bipartisan support, the bill did not advance, leaving hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians in the coverage gap.

The good news is that it’s not too late to close the coverage gap! In 2019, legislators can create a North Carolina plan to increase Medicaid access to children and families, but they need to hear from you!

How Can I Help?

Ask your candidates for legislative office the following question via email, phone, or in – person at a candidate forum:

In North Carolina, parents working in fields such as food service, farming, and child care frequently earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to buy private health insurance. Do you support using federal funds to increase access to affordable health coverage by closing the coverage gap?

 

References

i Georgetown University Health Policy Institute “Health Coverage for Parents and Caregivers Helps Children” March 2017

ii Georgetown University Health Policy Institute “Many Working Parents and Families in North Carolina Would Benefit from Medicaid Coverage” July 2015

iii Kaiser Family Foundation “Status of State Action on the Medicaid Expansion Decision” viewed 10/10/2018

iv Center on Budget & Policy Priorities “More Evidence Medicaid Expansion Boosts Health, Well-Being” January 2018

v Bhatt and Beck-Sagué “Medicaid Expansion and Infant Mortality in the United States” American Journal of Public Health

vi, vii Georgetown University Health Policy Institute “Health Coverage for Parents and Caregivers Helps Children” March 2017

viii Center on Budget & Policy Priorities “More Evidence That Medicaid Expansion Improves Health, Supports Employment” August 2018

September 2018