Medicaid expansion would be a huge plus for Alabama's working adults

The number of people without health care coverage in Alabama remained high in 2013, according to Census Bureau data released Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014. More than one in five working-age Alabamians, and more than one in eight Alabamians overall, lacked health insurance last year. The state’s uninsured rate showed no progress between 2012 and 2013.

Public insurance options like Medicare, Medicaid and ALL Kids play a significant role in ensuring health coverage for children and seniors in Alabama. Nearly 96 percent of children were insured last year, as were almost all seniors. By expanding Medicaid to cover more people, Alabama could boost the number of low-income, working-age adults who have health insurance, Arise Citizens’ Policy Project executive director Kimble Forrister said.

“Alabama can and should do more to make sure health insurance is affordable, especially for people who are struggling,” Forrister said. “First and foremost, the state should expand Medicaid, which would help more than 340,000 Alabamians get health coverage. We’ve made great strides in covering children and seniors. Now it’s time to do the same for working Alabamians.”

The 2013 Census data do not reflect the enrollment of nearly 100,000 Alabamians in the new Health Insurance Marketplace, but next year’s Census data will. Since the 2013 estimates were collected, those who can’t get affordable insurance through their jobs and whose earnings are above the poverty line have been able to sign up for coverage through the Marketplace. Many of these people are now eligible for federal subsidies to help them pay their premiums and reduce their out-of-pocket health costs. The Marketplace has made coverage possible for tens of thousands of Alabamians, Forrister said, and Medicaid expansion would help even more.

“We have the chance to help those who can’t afford health insurance receive the care they need at a very low cost to the state,” he said. “Medicaid expansion would be good for our residents, good for our hospitals and good for our economy. It would be a mistake to let this opportunity pass.”

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