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North Dakota Kids Benefit as Medicaid Covers More Parents

PHOTO: States like North Dakota that have expanded Medicaid are seeing a surge in the number of parents with health insurance, while the increases in other states are much smaller. Photo credit: Images Money/Flickr
PHOTO: States like North Dakota that have expanded Medicaid are seeing a surge in the number of parents with health insurance, while the increases in other states are much smaller. Photo credit: Images Money/Flickr
September 15, 2014

BISMARCK, N.D. – When it comes to parents who have health insurance, there is a growing gap among the states – with a stark difference in coverage trends between those that have expanded Medicaid and those that have not.

A new report finds that states such as North Dakota, with expanded Medicaid coverage, have seen the insured rate for parents jump by 33 percent on average.

In states with no expansion, there has been no significant change.

Genevieve Kenney, co-director of the Health Policy Center for the Urban Institute, says there are implications for the children when their parents lack insurance.

"You can imagine that they delay getting health care, and perhaps go without needed health care, because they can't afford it,” she stresses. “And the nature of those unmet health needs can affect their ability to effectively parent their children."

The Medicaid expansion in North Dakota means new eligibility for more than 20,000 people across the state, about 60 percent of whom have already enrolled.

Despite the importance of health insurance to parents and their children, Kenney says whether states have expanded or not is a decision that has fallen largely along party lines.

"There's been so much focus on, and so much rhetoric around, the politics of the Affordable Care Act,” she points out. “Maybe not quite as much focus on the human dimension, and what is at stake for families."

North Dakota is one of 27 states thus far, along with the District of Columbia, that has accepted federal funding to expand their Medicaid programs.


John Michaelson, Public News Service - ND