By Terri L. Phillips, M.D., Chief Medical Affairs Officer, Merz Aesthetics, Chair, American Heart Association Triangle Board
During American Heart Month, we celebrate heart health and spread awareness of healthy habits to live a healthy and longer life. But for many North Carolinians without health insurance, heart health is truly out of reach.
High blood pressure is one of the top risk factors for heart disease and stroke, and the uninsured face many barriers to getting the right care. Unable to see a doctor consistently, it is difficult to manage blood pressure and access medication. The costs for basic prevention can also be prohibitively expensive without insurance.
If North Carolina closed the health insurance coverage gap by expanding Medicaid, many more people could improve their health and prevent more devastating health issues, such as a heart attack or stroke. Medicaid can help with the preventative care, as well as address some of the broader issues they are facing, such as food insecurity or transportation, which we know contributes heavily to health outcomes.
And for the states that have already expanded Medicaid, we have seen the positive benefits for heart patients: studies show that states that have expanded Medicaid are experiencing greater improvements in heart disease outcomes. Expansion can improve consistent care for chronic conditions and increases the use of preventative service and health screenings.
This Valentine’s Day, let’s show some love to all of North Carolinians, and expand Medicaid.