With one of the largest uninsured populations in the country, North Carolina is home to far too many people who lack the regular health car access and financial security that comprehensive health care coverage provides. In an economic landscape in which employers consider health outcomes in their location and expansion decisions, North Carolina’s 10.7 percent uninsured rate—the 10th highest in the nation—makes us less competitive. Moreover, it limits the ability of our residents to thrive. Having health insurance improves the health and economic security of individuals and communities.
People with health insurance coverage are more likely to have a source of regular health care, get the quality care they need, and report better health outcomes. When uninsured people gain coverage, they are less likely to face high out-of-pocket costs and less likely to incur medical debt and more likely to prevent chronic disease and achieve healthier outcomes, giving them a better shot at prospering in today’s economy.Research across the country has continued to demonstrate the economic boost that access to health care and having health insurance coverage provides to families and communities.
And yet, access to health insurance coverage in North Carolina remains strongly tied to the income available to a household. The higher a household’s income, the more likely household members are to be insured. This link limits the reach of benefits of health insurance coverage reinforcing barriers to economic mobility for those with low-incomes.
More than one-fifth of our state’s population lives at incomes below 138 percent of the poverty line, which amounts to an annual income of $17,236 for a single household or $29,435 for a family of three. However, of all uninsured people in our state, North Carolinians with incomes below 138 percent of the poverty line make up 40.5 percent. As demonstrated in the figures below, uninsured rates are also much higher among North Carolinians with lower incomes than among their higher-income neighbors.
Public policy that ensures that no matter the income of a household that there is an ability to live healthier lives with health insurance coverage disrupts the reinforcing negative connection between economic and health outcomes. It has the potential to deliver an economic boost to North Carolina.