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Thousands in northeastern North Carolina now have insurance under Medicaid

Medicaid expansion will allow for more medical facilities in underserved areas of the state, like Outer Banks where residents have a handful of doctors and three urgent care centers to seek care. (Image: OBX Health via Instagram)
Image via OBX Health via Instagram
Medicaid expansion helped medical facilities in underserved areas of the state, like the Outer Banks where residents have only a handful of doctors to seek care.

More than 7,000 people in northeastern North Carolina have enrolled in Medicaid since the state expanded the program in December 2023.

More than 7,500 North Carolinians in the northeastern part of the state have enrolled in Medicaid since it was expanded last year, according to updated state data.

Most of those have been in Pasquotank county — 1,999 newly covered people — followed by Dare County with 1,138 people who now have state-subsidized health insurance.

The majority of new enrollees are between 19 and 29 years old and most are female

"From the day we launched Medicaid expansion, we’ve been committed to getting people covered and getting them care as fast as possible," North Carolina Health and Human Services Secretary Kody H. Kinsley said in a press release. "We are doing that even faster than expected and ensuring North Carolinians receive the health information, support and care they need to help them stay healthy.”

North Carolina officials estimated 600,000 people in the state would be able to get coverage under Medicaid expansion. Gov. Roy Cooper’s office announced last week 450,000 people were enrolled in the program since the enrollment rules changed five months ago.

Medicaid was previously limited to residents with very low incomes, people with disabilities, people over the age of 65, children and pregnant women up to one year after childbirth. Medicaid expansion is supported by the federal Affordable Care Act and allows states to widen those eligibility criteria to cover more people who might have trouble accessing health insurance.

Most of the people who became eligible for coverage after North Carolina lawmakers approved expansion last year work in child care centers, grocery stores, retail environments and restaurants, Cooper’s office said in a press release. Those industries often don’t offer comprehensive health insurance options through work.

Expansion also benefits people who are single or don’t have children, the governor’s office said.

North Carolina officials estimate more than $347.5 million in Medicaid reimbursements have gone to in-state providers since expansion took effect in December 2023, and the Medicaid program has covered just under $18 million in dental claims.

The state’s 450,000 new Medicaid enrollees have filled more than 1,000,000 new prescriptions for heart conditions, diabetes, seizures and more, Cooper’s office said.

“This is life-saving and life-changing health care that will help more North Carolinians stay healthy, provide for their families and enjoy a promising future,” Cooper said in a press release.

Mechelle is News Director at WHRO. She helped launch the newsroom as a reporter in 2020. She's worked in newspapers and nonprofit news in her career. Mechelle lives in Virginia Beach, where she grew up.

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