By Hailey Gutzmer, Research and Communications Coordinator, Care4Carolina
This past Sunday was Mother’s Day, a time to celebrate the incredible hard work and resilience of mothers. Every mom is a working mom, but for too many mothers in our state, the job comes without a crucial support — health coverage.
Employer-sponsored health insurance is unfortunately not an option for every working mother. Without the ability to receive health insurance through an employer, the only options for coverage are applying for Medicaid or purchasing a private health insurance plan through the health insurance marketplace.
However, the income limit to qualify for Medicaid is 42% of the federal poverty line. That means a working mother with one child that earns more than $7,240/year cannot qualify for Medicaid. This then only leaves one option: purchasing a private plan in the marketplace.
When visiting the health insurance marketplace, too many working mothers find that they do not qualify for a subsidy because they fall into the coverage gap. The graphic above shows the income limit to qualify for Medicaid in North Carolina and the threshold that a family of two needs to hit before they qualify for a subsidy.
If a mother with one child works a full-time job at minimum wage ($7.25/hr), that mother is going to find herself right in the middle of the coverage gap with no assistance and no affordable options for health insurance coverage.
Yes, she could still purchase a private plan in the marketplace without a subsidy. But looking at premium prices across the state, this is simply not an affordable option. The monthly premium for the lowest-cost bronze plan in the marketplace ranges from $268.27/month in the central region of the state to $400.20/month in the east. The deductible for these lowest-cost bronze plans is around $8,550, and the coverage is very limited before you hit the deductible.
Many working mothers come to the devastating realization that it is just not possible to purchase a private health insurance plan when there is rent to pay, bills to cover, and expenses for taking care of a child. These mother’s then have no health coverage with no protection in the case of a health emergency, leaving themselves and their families vulnerable in a time of crisis.
Our state cannot function without healthy and thriving moms. And it is nearly impossible to remain healthy if you do not have health coverage and cannot access care. No mother should have to fear that she will not be able to see her child grow-up because of unmet health needs. We need to do better, North Carolina.
Closing the health insurance coverage gap would provide affordable health coverage to many mothers that currently find themselves without any assistance. Better health coverage is essential to ensuring the health of mothers and their families. Closing the coverage gap a simple step that our state legislators can take to show that North Carolina values hardworking moms and all that they do.