North Carolina tops in uninsured

MORRISVILLE, N.C. – Driven by a high unemployment rate and lagging Medicaid benefits for parents, North Carolina now has the highest growth in uninsured residents in the U.S., a new study says.

The state is home to an estimated 1.8 million uninsured people, an increase of 3.1 percent or about 322,000 people since 2007, says the study from the North Carolina Institute of Medicine and the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research at UNC-Chapel Hill.

About one in five of the state’s non-elderly population, or more than 1.5 million people, have no insurance.

The spike is due in large part to a rise in the state’s unemployment rate, which in turn has caused a loss in employer-provided insurance of 12.5 percent, almost double the national average of 6.8 percent.

And the state’s Medicaid program for parents is less generous than those in other states, the report says.

At the same time, about three in five kids who are eligible for insurance coverage through Medicaid or N.C. Health Choice, more than 186,000 children, are not enrolled.

To respond to the growing number of uninsured, the Institute of Medicine has released a report providing recommendations to policymakers.

The report encourages the state to expand insurance coverage to include low-income children and adults and to workers and families employed by companies with fewer than 25 employees.

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