Covering Parents is Good for Kids: How Expanding Medicaid Helps Low-Income Adults

(Editor’s Note:  Welcome to the Center for Children and Families’ “Covering Parents is Good for Kids” blog series.  Previous blogs on this topic have pointed out that extending Medicaid coverage to parents  will provide a good value to states; maternal, infant and early childhood home visiting programs help prevent child maltreatment; covering parents can help depressed mothers get treatment and improve child development;  and the single best way to ensure kids access the coverage and care they need is by covering their parents.)

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a new fact sheet on how expanding Medicaid will help low-income adults get health coverage. Currently, 45% of adults living below the federal poverty line (FPL) do not have health insurance. The ACA expands Medicaid to cover most low-income adults earning under 138% FPL.  As we have written extensively about, covering adults means covering parents—and covering parents is good for children.

Today, most low-income adults lack affordable options for health coverage. Over 80% of workers earning under 138% FPL do not have health coverage through their employers because it is either not offered or unaffordable. Medicaid coverage for parents is extremely limited in most states: the median eligibility level for working parents is 61% FPL and for jobless parents is 37% FPL. (The median eligibility level for childless adults is 0% FPL). Expanding Medicaid would make low-income adults healthier and more financially stable. The expansion represents an opportunity for states to extend coverage to adults that have no other options for health insurance

Karina Wagnerman
Karina Wagnerman is a Senior Health Policy Analyst at the Center for Children and Families

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