Yesterday a large number of groups released a letter urging Governor McCrory to expand Medicaid under Obamacare to allow people making under $15,000 a year in income to get health coverage. Our friends at Action NC have a petition for individuals to sign too urging the Governor to act on this commonsense change, paid for entirely by the federal government for the first three years (the feds pay 90% of the costs into the future). 500,000 of our fellow citizens are counting on NC to let them get quality health care for the first time on January 1, 2014. Let’s help.
More news today – this time from the Governor’s office – that NC is moving slowly forward with a health benefits exchange under Obamacare. No surprise – this is an important issue, and even Republican governors now are saying they will likely move forward building health exchanges.
This is good, but a much more critical issue for 500,000 North Carolinians isn’t being talked about. That’s whether NC will expand Medicaid under Obamacare. There are nearly half a million people in NC who don’t have health insurance and make under $15,000 a year. Most would not qualify to buy subsidized health insurance in NC’s new health exchange because they make too little income. Their only hope for coverage is for NC to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.
I often hear this canard from some politicians on the right: ”Everyone has health insurance in this country – you can just go to the emergency room and get treated.” Putting aside that it’s much more expensive to treat people in the ER for problems that a regular visit to a primary care physician could have caught early, there is a more serious consequence for people without health insurance. They die earlier than people who have coverage. Decades of studies (and a little common sense) bear this out:
The Kaiser Family Foundation has a great infographic on health costs that came out recently. Given all the cost talk, I thought I’d put it up. One section of it that compares our per capita costs to other countries is especially well presented:
From a new report by the the wonks at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:
The share of residents without health coverage fell in 20 states last year, Census data released yesterday show, while rising in just one. This improvement largely reflect increased private coverage among young adults — helped by a health reform provision allowing them to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26 — and greater enrollment in public programs such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
In North Carolina the uninsured rate fell from 16.8% to 16.3%. And despite population growth and hard economic times, the actual number of uninsured people fell by more than 44,000.