Health insurance coverage matters to the health and well-being of individuals and families. While federal and state policymakers debate various legislative vehicles to accomplish expanded coverage, one thing is certain: Increasing health insurance coverage is essential for North Carolina to achieve its goals for healthier outcomes.

North Carolina currently ranks 9th worst in the nation for the high share of our population living without the security that health insurance coverage provides.

Indeed, health insurance delivers financial security by protecting people from catastrophic, unexpected medical expenses and by letting people get preventive care and treatment when they need it at a price they can afford.

Data showing the benefits of health insurance on the health and financial security of individuals and families are robust, and, interestingly, are primarily collected by comparing the health of insured individuals to those without insurance. Those without insurance are more likely to delay or forego care, have difficulty accessing care due to cost, delay filling prescriptions, and perhaps most importantly, are in worse health.

Research from states that have expanded Medicaid have found health benefits for residents that align with many of the pressing goals for our state’s health and well-being.

This legislative session, North Carolina lawmakers are revisiting an option to provide many uninsured individuals with health care by closing the coverage gap. Approximately 500,000 North Carolinians – those living at or near poverty – would stand to gain Medicaid coverage, allowing them to seek health care without the financial burden.