By Tiffany Gladney, Policy Director, NC Child
Every parent and caregiver deserves affordable health coverage in order to stay healthy and provide for their families. That’s why NC Child has been a Care4Carolina partner since 2017 and why we work every day to bring the voices of families to the conversation around closing the health care coverage gap in North Carolina.
Far too many North Carolinians can’t see a doctor when they need one because affordable health insurance is out of reach in our state. Expanding Medicaid and closing that gap would bring affordable health coverage to more than 100,000 North Carolina parents with children at home. That has myriad benefits.
- Family Financial Security
Parents can’t work and take care of their children when they’re not healthy. Many North Carolina parents don’t earn enough to buy private health insurance, but do not qualify for Medicaid. A family with two parents and two children that earns as little as $1,000/month makes too much for Medicaid.
Expanding Medicaid can help working families pull through difficult times. Most of those who would be covered by expanded Medicaid are working – sometimes in multiple jobs – but don’t earn enough to qualify for a private marketplace plan. Many works in essential jobs like child care, food service, construction, and nursing homes.
- Covering Parents & Caregivers So That More Kids Are Covered, Too
A growing number of children in our state have no health insurance. An estimated 142,000 North Carolina children were uninsured in 2019, a 23 percent increase from 2016. North Carolina is now one of the bottom ten states in terms of covering children.
Without health coverage, children cannot access the care they need to grow, thrive, and learn. They often miss developmental screenings, critical childhood vaccinations, and forego needed care. Research shows children with health coverage are more likely to graduate from high school, attend college and grow up to be healthier and more productive adults.
When parents and caregivers have health insurance, children are more likely to be covered as well. Research has found that states that expanded Medicaid have significantly lower rates of uninsured children.
- Addressing Racial & Ethnic Disparities
Black and Latinx families are less likely to have health insurance than other groups in our state – a factor that contributes to disparities in both parents’ and children’s health outcomes. In North Carolina, Black people are 30 percent more likely than whites to be uninsured, and American Indian people are 60 percent more likely to be uninsured. Hispanic/Latinx people are 3 times more likely than whites to be uninsured.
If North Carolina were to expand Medicaid, half of those newly insured would be people of color. Expanding Medicaid in North Carolina can help address long-standing health disparities for people of color in our state. We can tackle the racial and ethnic disparities head-on, setting up more children for life-long health and well-being, by making health coverage affordable for all families.
- Covering Parents and Caregivers
Every parent and caregiver needs reliable, affordable access to health care. Income should not be the factor that determines whether parents & caregivers can get the care they need – including foster and adoptive parents, grandparent caregivers, and anyone with children depending on them.
It’s time to expand Medicaid so that North Carolina families can thrive!
NC Child is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that advances public policies to ensure that every child in North Carolina has the opportunity to thrive – whatever their race, ethnicity or place of birth. www.ncchild.org