Children’s health care advocacy group, NC Child, released the outcome of a recent health insurance benefits study it conducted. The organization looks into best health practices by collecting data from North Carolina families and communities.
This most recent research looked specifically at the infant mortality rates and their relationship with health plans.
The study indicated a direct relationship between health insurance benefits and improved infant mortality rates. NC Child director of research and data, Laila Bell, said North Carolina faces a serious issue with regards to infant mortality. She explained “We lose seven babies for every 1000 babies born in this state which is actually higher than our national average.”
The NC Child study results arrived on the heels of a decision by the General Assembly not to expand Medicaid in the state. There had been a question as to whether or not families falling into the so-called health insurance coverage gap. Now, the decision has been made not to expand Medicaid to that group.
That said, Bell said a lack of health insurance benefits for mothers could cause children to suffer.
Many families are falling into a problematic zone of having income too high to qualify for Medicaid but too low to make private health insurance affordable. They are a group that is at risk of low rates of coverage.
Bell stated “I think the evidence is clear that this infant mortality is a movable issue and we know what works. One of those strategies is making sure women have access to the health insurance that they need before they become pregnant.”
States that have not expanded their Medicaid coverage are in the minority. Thirty one states across the country have broadened this coverage. Those states have also seen better rates in infant mortality, said Bell. She pointed to a study conducted in Oregon. It said there were considerable improvements in newborn health where Medicaid health coverage was expanded.
Furthermore, she said there is a direct link between investments into clinical care and interventions assisting at-risk babies to live longer lives. In North Carolina, one fifth of women between 19 and 40 years old (reproductive age) do not have health insurance benefits.