North Carolina is a state of breathtaking natural beauty, from the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains to the stunning beaches along its coast. However, it's also a state where finding affordable health insurance can be a challenge. While many residents in NC receive health insurance through their employer, self-employed individuals or those without access to employer-sponsored plans must navigate a complex and ever-changing marketplace to find coverage that meets their needs.
The good news is that there are several options available for individual health insurance in North Carolina. One option is the Health Insurance Marketplace, which was created under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In NC, over 500,000 individuals were enrolled in Marketplace coverage in 2021, with 89% of those receiving financial assistance to help lower their monthly premiums. Additionally, 41% of Marketplace enrollees in NC were new to coverage in 2021, demonstrating the ongoing need for affordable health insurance options.
Another option for individual health insurance in NC is short-term health insurance plans. These plans are typically less expensive than Marketplace plans but provide limited coverage and are not required to meet the same standards for essential health benefits as Marketplace plans. According to a 2020 report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 11% of adults in NC had coverage through short-term plans, higher than the national average of 6%.
In addition to these options, NC also offers a state-run health insurance program called NC Medicaid. This program provides health coverage to low-income individuals and families, pregnant women, children, and individuals with disabilities. As of December 2021, over 2.8 million North Carolinians were enrolled in Medicaid, with over 72,000 individuals newly enrolled through the state's expansion of Medicaid under the ACA.
Despite these options, there are still challenges to accessing affordable health insurance in NC. For example, rural areas of the state have fewer options for coverage, and premiums for Marketplace plans have increased in recent years. Additionally, the state has not expanded Medicaid to cover individuals with incomes above the poverty level, leaving many uninsured individuals without access to affordable coverage.
Overall, finding affordable individual health insurance in NC can be challenging, but there are options available for those who need coverage. Whether through the Health Insurance Marketplace, short-term plans, or NC Medicaid, residents of the state can find a plan that fits their needs and budget. By considering all available options and carefully comparing plans, individuals can make informed decisions about their health coverage and ensure that they have access to the care they need.