Insurance Coverage Gap Linked to Stalled Progress on Infant Mortality; Problems Acute in WNC

Jul 18, 2016

A new study from NC Child finds North Carolina's slowed progress in combating infant mortality could be a result of a lack of insurance for women.  One in five women across the state lack health insurance, a problem exacerbated by the so-called "Medicaid gap."  That's the coverage gap people fall into who make too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough for tax credits on the Affordable Care Act.  The ACA originally required states to expand Medicaid coverage, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the law could not force states to do that.  North Carolina is one of 19 states that has not expanded Medicaid because of refusal from Republican leaders in the General Assembly. 

Study author Laila Bell says all the evidence points to expansion of Medicaid having a huge benefit for women and for the health of their babies.  Counties in western North Carolina have some of the highest rates of uninsured women of reproductive age, with Cherokee posting the worst rate in the state at 46.7 percent.  Those numbers closely coincide with the rate of babies born prematurely and under weight.  The full conversation with Bell is above.  A shorter broadcast version is below. 

This interactive map lets you find out where each county stands on a number of factors weighed by the study.