Fearing the debt rather than the disease

Published 7:52 am Wednesday, July 3, 2019

To the Editor:

North Carolina has a sad and dangerous “gap”. It is a “coverage gap”. People who fall in this gap have NO health insurance.

Those people are NOT the UN-employed, but the working poor. They are the farmer, fisherman, veteran, childcare worker, small business owner and part-time employee. They are the Walmart cashier, the nurse’s aide, the mechanic at your local service station. It`s possibly your child, sibling, relative or neighbor.

Did you know that a family of 4 making more than $12,000/year (about $1000/month) makes too much money to qualify for Medicaid?

Were you aware that a family of 4 making less than $25,100/year (about $2,091/month) makes too little money to qualify for the ACA Marketplace subsidies?

A family of 4 making between $1000 – $2,091/month falls in NC`s “coverage gap”. Think about that. They work yet they cannot afford health insurance.

If you had no health insurance, when would you go to the doctor? You probably wouldn`t. Where would you go? You would likely go to the hospital Emergency Room because they cannot deny you treatment.

Would you get any preventive care? Mammograms? Prostate screenings? Prenatal care? Diabetic screenings? No. You would not be able to afford it.

If you felt a lump in your breast, were having persistent stomach pains or were experiencing headaches and blurred vision, would you go to a doctor? Not until you had no choice.

Why? Because, without health insurance, you would fear the debt more than the disease and the cost would be beyond your ability to pay.

Frequently, by the time those in the “gap” seek treatment, what began as a treatable, curable illness has become terminal. Sometimes they wait too long, and, oftentimes, they die.

Medicaid expansion in NC would close the ”coverage gap”, allowing the working poor to receive the healthcare they need to keep them healthy enough to work, raise their families and be productive citizens.

Medicaid expansion would bring about $4 billion dollars in federal funding into the NC economy each year, a potential 43,000 new jobs and more than $21 billion in state business activity. It could keep our clinics and hospitals from closing.

States utilizing the Medicaid expansion #1: closed their coverage gap, #2: have fared much better economically and #3: their citizens have access to affordable healthcare.

Governor Cooper is proposing Medicaid expansion for NC in this year`s budget. Contact your representatives and let them know that, as a citizen of NC, you know “we need Medicaid expansion in our state” and ask them to” support Gov. Cooper`s Medicaid Expansion plan”.

Call, text, write or email your representatives today. It is vital. It is essential. It is time.

Rep. Howard Hunter: 16 W Jones St, Rm. 2121, Raleigh, NC 27601-1096; Howard.Hunter@ncleg.net or 919-733-5780

Rep. Michael Wray: 16 W Jones St, Rm. 2123M, Raleigh, NC 27601-1096; Michael.Wray@ncleg.net or 919-733-5662

Sen. Erica Smith: 300 N Salisbury St, Rm. 520, Raleigh, NC 27603; EricaD.Smith@ncleg.net or 919-715-3040

Sen. Milton “Toby” Fitch, Jr.: 16 W Jones St, Rm. 112   Raleigh, NC 27601; Toby.Fitch@ncleg.net or 919-733-5878

Wanda Flythe