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Press release
October 27, 2015

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

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

Washington, D.C. – About 70,000 West Virginians 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 West Virginians represents an estimated 55 percent of the state’s residents who benefit from West Virginia’s Medicaid expansion, which went into effect last year.

“This information shows us the kind of workers who have never had access to health insurance coverage in the past,” said Terri Giles, Executive Director of West Virginians for Affordable Health Care (WVAHC). “These are the people we interact with every day – food service workers, retail sales people, childcare workers, hairdressers and others. They now have better access to health care through Medicaid. This is a good thing for them and for West Virginia."

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 West Virginia,” 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 approximately 70,000 West Virginians who can benefit from Medicaid expansion:

  • 13,000 in food service, working as fast food workers, waiters and cooks.
  • 10,000 in sales, working as retail salespeople, cashiers and clerks.
  • 7,000 in office and administrative support, including bookkeepers, receptionists and stock clerks.
  • 6,000 in cleaning and maintenance, including janitors and landscapers and housekeepers.
  • 6,000 in construction jobs, including carpenters, painters and laborers.
  • 6,000 in transportation as truck drivers, freight laborers and bus drivers.
  • 4,000 in personal care, including barbers, child care workers, hairdressers and personal care aides.
  • 3,000 in production, including team assemblers, machinists and welders.
  • 3,000 in health care support, including nursing assistants, orderlies and home health aides.
  • An additional 12,000 work in a variety of other jobs.

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 was $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.