Duke health policy expert Don Taylor writes in his blog today that the author of a study cited by NC Senate leader Phil Berger is disputing Berger’s reading of the results of the study on NC. Berger cites the study to try and call into question the North Carolina Institute of Medicine’s estimate that 500,000 uninsured people in NC will gain coverage through expansion of Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act. But the study’s author says that Berger’s interpretation that most of these 500,000 people already have private health insurance doesn’t make sense for NC. Why? NC is a relatively poor state where lots of people don’t have health insurance coupled with much more restrictive eligibility rules for Medicaid than many other states.
For example, North Carolina has one of the lowest income levels in the country for parents to be able to get Medicaid. And North Carolina is not a state like New York that has already extended Medicaid benefits to childless adults between the ages of 19 and 64. In NC, if you are an adult in this age group without kids it doesn’t matter how poor you are – you will not be able to get Medicaid. Finally, a little common sense is called for here. When the average health policy costs today costs over $5,600 a year just for an individual and over $15,700 for a family, your average North Carolinian making minimum wage simply isn’t going to be able to afford coverage.
Talk to a few of the people in the poorest counties in our state like I do all the time and you’ll find out that there are plenty of people without health insurance who are really, really poor. Senator Berger needs to get out more.