Dollars and Sense of Health Care Access in Nebraska

On Mar 8, the Center for Rural Affairs released a Rural Policy Brief examining the basic economic and income issues for all Nebraskans connected to expanding Medicaid.

Nebraska is one of 17 states not adopting Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. This has left thousands of working Nebraskans without access to affordable health care. The economic consequences of this decision are significant.

More than 79,000 Nebraskans are caught in a “coverage gap.” These individuals live in households with too much income to qualify for Medicaid, but too little to qualify for the premium tax credits that make health insurance affordable. Most are parents. The majority work. All live in our communities.

Each individual covered through an expanded Medicaid program could save $1,100 on out-of-pocket health costs each year. When spent locally, these savings lead to 800 potential new jobs, $32 million in additional income, and $4.9 million in state and local tax revenues.

For every $1 Nebraska invests in Medicaid expansion, an additional $13.41 in federal funding will enter our state’s economy. Much of this is allocated to our hospitals, which stand to lose $1.6 billion over a 10-year period through our failure to expand Medicaid. This results in more than $3 billion of missed opportunity for the Nebraska economy.

Bringing those lost revenues back to Nebraska to help address the challenges hospitals face in the form of uncompensated care provided to uninsured Nebraskans is vitally important, for rural hospitals in particular.

Our report also emphasizes that access to health insurance is lowest in rural Nebraska. Of the 37 counties with the highest rate of uninsured individuals, 32 are rural. Overall, a higher percentage of rural Nebraskans are without health insurance than their urban counterparts.

Medicaid expansion is a smart investment in the people of rural Nebraska. You can see the Dollars and Sense of Health Care Access in Nebraska brief here.

Feature image: Nebraska residents talk with Sen. Les Seiler (District 33) about access to health care during a lobby day the Center co-sponsored to show support for LB 1032, the Transitional Health Insurance Program Act. | Photo by Traci Bruckner