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Press release
October 8, 2015

Kentucky Study: Working Individuals Make Up the Largest Group Who Benefit from Medicaid Expansion

Study Estimates that 55 Percent of those benefiting from Kentucky’s Medicaid Expansion are Working Adults in Key Economic Sectors

Washington, D.C.—More than 170,000 Kentuckians benefiting from the state’s decision to accept Medicaid expansion work in industries that are the foundation of the state’s economy, with jobs ranging from sales and food service to construction and health care, according to estimates in a study released today by Families USA.

This projected group of working Kentuckians represents an estimated 55 percent of the state’s residents who benefit from Kentucky’s Medicaid expansion, which went into effect last year.

"What's exciting to me and to health advocates across Kentucky, is that we're already starting to see positive results from the expansion of Medicaid," said Emily Beauregard, Executive Director of Kentucky Voices for Health. "I think we're all proud that Kentucky leads the nation in the decrease in uninsured, but enrollment in coverage is just part of our success.

"Already in the first year of the expansion, we've seen a dramatic increase in preventive screenings and more visits to primary care providers," Beauregard said. "What this tells us is that working Kentuckians are being proactive with their health and seeking out preventive services before they get sick, which means a healthier workforce and cost-savings down the road."

And the overall result is better care and medical outcomes for these working Kentuckians, said Dr. Joe E. Kingery, CEO and Medical Director of UK North Fork Valley Community Health Center.

“Our patients have better follow-up, are able to get medical tests, specialty care and medications they couldn’t before, resulting in improvement of their chronic diseases,” he said.

Without Medicaid expansion, many of these people would have fallen through the cracks in the health care system – making too much for traditional Medicaid, but too little to qualify for subsidies on the insurance exchange, said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA.

“This study shows Medicaid expansion is a success story in Kentucky,” Pollack said. “The people it helps have tough jobs in industries that traditionally don’t provide health insurance. Now after a hard day’s work, they can sleep with the peace of mind that health insurance provides – knowing that a sudden accident or illness won’t wipe out their savings and dreams for the future.”

According to the study, following is the breakdown of occupations of those more than 170,000 Kentuckians who can benefit from Medicaid expansion:

  • 28,000 in food service, working as fast food workers, waiters and cooks.
  • 21,000 in sales, working as retail salespeople, cashiers and clerks.
  • 19,000 in transportation as truck drivers, freight laborers and bus drivers.
  • 16,000 in office and administrative support, including bookkeepers, receptionists and stock clerks.
  • 16,000 in production, including team assemblers, machinists and welders.
  • 15,000 in cleaning and maintenance, including janitors and landscapers and housekeepers.
  • 15,000 in construction jobs, including carpenters, painters and laborers.
  • 10,000 in personal care, including barbers, child care workers, hairdressers and personal care aides.
  • 5,000 in health care support, including nursing assistants, orderlies and home health aides.
  • An additional 28,000 work in a variety of other jobs.

Stephanie Moore; CEO of White House Clinics, talked about how important Medicaid expansion has been for families.

"Historically, children may have received coverage through Medicaid or KCHIP, but their parents and caregivers went without health care," Moore said. "As a health care provider, we would see adults who had neglected their care on a daily basis as they visited our office with their children. But we can now assist these patients in using their new coverage to receive much needed specialty care or diagnostic procedures."

It's clear Kentucky did the right thing when it accepted Medicaid expansion, Pollack said.

“Governor Beshear should be congratulated for his initial decision to expand Medicaid,” Pollack said. “The numbers contained in this study show how important this program is for so many working Kentuckians.”

Under Medicaid expansion, which went into effect in 2014, states can offer Medicaid coverage to residents with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $27,720 for a family of three. For the first three years, the federal government pays 100 percent of the costs. Starting in 2017, states will begin paying a small portion of the costs, which will be capped at 10 percent in 2020.

This report is based on 2010 to 2012 Census data. View a more detailed explanation of the methodology used to create this report.