By Peg O’Connell
Care4Carolina has been working on the issue of closing the coverage gap for the past 5 years. For those of you who are new readers to this blog, the coverage gap occurs when people make too much to qualify for Medicaid, or are otherwise not eligible, but make TOO LITTLE to qualify for a health insurance subsidy on the federal insurance market place. It makes me crazy every time I write that last part.
When we discuss finding a solution for closing the gap, we are often confronted with the myth that the people in the gap are lay-abouts—abled-bodied single people simply looking for some free handout from the taxpayers. Nothing could be further from the truth!
So, let me set the record straight. Most of the people in the gap are working. Before COVID, we know that 63% of those in the gap were in working families. They are low wage workers whose jobs are in sectors where the business model does not Include health insurance—they are often the front- line workers who have kept our economy moving during this pandemic.
Many in the gap are parents. Some are working 2 or 3 jobs in order to put food on the table and a roof over their heads. There is no money left at the end of the month to pay the exorbitant cost of buying health insurance in the private health insurance market place.
And while I am on my rant, what is wrong with helping able-bodied people find an affordable solution for securing health insurance? People in the gap are a vital part of our community and our economy and they need to be healthy in order to continue working—especially during this pandemic. Who do we think is going to staff our nursing homes, stock our grocery stores and make our food?
How long do we expect people to remain able-bodied if they can’t afford to tend to their most basic health needs? We need healthy workers and they need our help. We need to close the coverage gap now!