The Affordable Care Act — as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court — gives states the option to expand Medicaid. Access to Medicaid significantly reduces the number of uninsured in this country. Since the expansion began, millions of individuals are receiving coverage through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Yet, 19 states have not expanded Medicaid coverage, potentially leaving almost 2 million low-income midlife adults (ages 45-64) without access to insurance coverage.
Being uninsured is especially hard on adults in their middle years who are experiencing the onset of chronic illness, like diabetes and hypertension. These conditions are treatable with sustained access to primary care. Left untreated, they worsen, leading to debilitating side effects (like loss of a limb or stroke) and high emergency room and uncompensated care costs.
Here are the numbers of midlife adults who are potentially going without health insurance coverage in states that have chosen not to expand their Medicaid programs:
North Carolina 146,882
South Carolina 85,390
South Dakota 12,149
Lynda Flowers is a senior strategic policy adviser specializing in Medicaid issues, health disparities and public health.