Association Of Unemployment With Medicaid Enrollment By Social Vulnerability In North Carolina During COVID-19.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

The COVID-19 pandemic precipitated an unemployment crisis in the US that surpassed the Great Recession of 2007-09 within the first three months of the pandemic. This article builds on the limited early evidence of the relationship between the pandemic and health insurance coverage, using county-level unemployment and Medicaid enrollment data from North Carolina, a large state that did not expand Medicaid. We used linear and county fixed effects models to assess this relationship, accounting for county-level social vulnerability, physical and virtual access to Medicaid enrollment, and COVID-19 case burden. Using data from January 2018 through August 2020, we estimated that the passthrough rate-the share of unemployed people who gained Medicaid coverage-was approximately 15 percent statewide but higher in more socially vulnerable counties. This low passthrough rate during a period of increased unemployment resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic means that Medicaid was unable to completely fulfill its countercyclical role, in which it grows to meet greater need during periods of widespread economic hardship, because of North Carolina's stringent Medicaid eligibility criteria. Working toward greater adoption of Medicaid expansion may help ensure that the US is better prepared for the next crisis by ensuring access to health insurance coverage.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Shafer, PR; Anderson, DM; Whitaker, R; Wong, CA; Wright, B

Published Date

  • September 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 40 / 9

Start / End Page

  • 1491 - 1500

PubMed ID

  • 34495714

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1544-5208

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0278-2715

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1377/hlthaff.2021.00377


  • eng