Raleigh, N.C. – A compilation of several major health care indicators reveals that state policies designed to improve health care in North Carolina have failed. Health insurance costs are rising more rapidly than the national average, more children lack health coverage and the most vulnerable in our state have less access to care, according to a study recently released by the Civitas Institute.
More Children Lack Coverage
- The overall uninsured rate of 14.4 percent in 2001 was below the national average. That rate, however, has since climbed past the national average to reach 16.4 percent.
- Likewise, the rate of uninsured children in North Carolina climbed from 11.2 percent in 2001 to 12.1 percent in 2007. North Carolina’s rate of uninsured children was below the national average in 2001, but jumped past the national rate by 2007.
Rise in Uninsured Rate Occurred at a Time of Medicaid Expansion
Expanding Medicaid programs is supposed to reduce the number of those lacking health coverage. As noted above, however, the number of uninsured North Carolinians has grown in the last several years at a time when the percentage of those enrolled in Medicaid has likewise increased.
- The overall percentage of North Carolinians enrolled in Medicaid increased from 11.6 percent in 2001 to 13.2 percent in 2007.
- Meanwhile, the percentage of North Carolina children enrolled in Medicaid jumped from 25.4 percent to 30.1 percent.
North Carolina Insurance Costs Rising More Rapidly Than National Rates
- Average family health insurance premiums for employer-based coverage in North Carolina rose by 56.2 percent from 2001 to 2006. The increase exceeded the national average increase of 51.6 percent, and was significantly higher than area states such as South Carolina (46.8%), Georgia (47%) and Tennessee (40.6%).
Less Access for North Carolina’s Most Vulnerable
- From FY 2001 to FY 2006, the number of Medicaid service recipients climbed by 28 percent.
- Meanwhile, the number of physicians enrolled as Medicaid providers decreased by 23 percent, and the number of enrolled Medicaid hospital providers shrank by 61 percent.
Mental Health Spending Not a Priority
While lawmakers continued to substantially expand a Medicaid program already described as a “Cadillac” system by the Lewin Group in 2001, funding for mental health was comparatively ignored.
- Inflation-adjusted Medicaid spending has increased by 30 percent since 2001, compared to just a 3 percent increase for mental health spending.
“The leadership in Raleigh needs to be held accountable for these woeful health care trends,” said Brian Balfour, budget and tax policy analyst. “Taxpayers and working families are paying the price for poor policies coming from state lawmakers. Taxpayers are footing the bill for expanding government health programs that fail to reduce the number of uninsured. Meanwhile, our elected officials refuse to ease up on expensive and burdensome regulation that drives up the cost of health insurance.” added Balfour.
This chart summarizes the major findings of the study:
|North Carolina Health Care Indicators||2001||Now
(or most recent data available)
|Percentage of Uninsured (overall)||14.4%
(below national average of 14.6%)
(above national average of 15.3%)
|Percentage of Uninsured Children||11.2%
(below national average of 11.7%)
(above national average of 11%)
|Percentage of North Carolinians Enrolled in Medicaid||11.6%||13.2%|
|Percentage of North Carolina Children Enrolled in Medicaid||25.4%||30.1%|
|Average family insurance premium||$7,011||$10,950|
|NC percentage increase||56.2%|
|Other State Increases:|
|U.S. Average Increase||51.6%|
|Percentage of North Carolinians Enrolled in Private Health Coverage||69.5%||64.1%|
|Percentage of North Carolina Children Enrolled in Private Health Coverage||66.2%||58%|
|Medicaid Spending (inflation-adjusted)||$2.5 billion||$3.25 billion
|Mental Health Spending (inflation-adjusted)||$581 million||$743 million
|Medicaid Error Rate||0.8%||4.21%|
|Recipients of Medicaid||28% increase|
|Medicaid Providers – Physicians||23% decrease|
|Medicaid Providers – Hospitals||61% decrease|
If you would like more information regarding this topic or to schedule an interview with Brian Balfour, please call Gabe Dellinger at 919.747.8065 or email at Gabe.Dellinger@nccivitas.org.