SOURCE: Foundation for Health Coverage Education

July 16, 2008 14:20 ET

Nonprofit Cites "10 Best States" and "10 Worst States" in Providing Government Health Insurance Assistance

District of Columbia, New York and Alaska Top List While Georgia, Arizona and California Rank Lowest

SAN JOSE, CA--(Marketwire - July 16, 2008) - Americans who need help from the government in paying for health care coverage -- if they experience unemployment or can't afford private insurance -- should know that while Medicaid is a national program that provides this assistance, every state has different service offerings, eligibility requirements and funding levels.

The Foundation for Health Coverage Education cites data provided by the Kaiser Family Health Foundation (www.statehealthfacts.org) to identify how programs differ from state to state. The statehealthfacts.org website ranks the 50 states and the District of Columbia by their expenditures per Medicaid enrollee. From this listing the FHCE has culled out 10 highest funded and 10 least funded state programs from the overall listing. "With one in five Americans on Medicaid at any one time, it's important to understand that the state you live in will have a big impact on if, and when, health care coverage will be there for you when you need it," said Phil Lebherz, founder and executive director.

The website listing identifies Medicaid's uneven funding levels. "How well a state funds its own programs and how much matching funding it receives from the federal government determine the number of physicians willing to treat Medicaid patients, the ability of hospital emergency rooms to stay open and the waiting periods Americans must endure when signing up. There's a direct link between how a state is funded and the quality of its overall health care delivery system," said Lebherz.

The 10 most generous states for funding Medicaid are as follows:

                             Medicaid Payment   Total Federal Medicaid
             State         Per Enrollee FY 2005     Payment FY 2005
      -------------------- -------------------- ----------------------
1.    District of Columbia               $7,941         $1,315,823,700
      -------------------- -------------------- ----------------------
2     New York                           $7,733        $13,114,394,700
      -------------------- -------------------- ----------------------
3.    Alaska                             $7,699           $366,000,923
      -------------------- -------------------- ----------------------
4.    Maine                              $7,691           $927,071,573
      -------------------- -------------------- ----------------------
5.    North Dakota                       $7,496           $224,423,813
      -------------------- -------------------- ----------------------
6.    Rhode Island                       $7,464           $582,870,187
      -------------------- -------------------- ----------------------
7     Connecticut                        $7,212         $1,261,138,400
      -------------------- -------------------- ----------------------
8.    New Jersey                         $7,022         $2,334,346,867
      -------------------- -------------------- ----------------------
9.    Minnesota                          $6,974         $1,743,732,467
      -------------------- -------------------- ----------------------
10.   Massachusetts                      $6,837         $2,761,464,300
      -------------------- -------------------- ----------------------

The 10 least funded states' Medicaid programs are as follows.

                             Medicaid Payment   Total Federal Medicaid
             State         Per Enrollee FY 2005     Payment FY 2005
      -------------------- -------------------- ----------------------
42    Michigan                           $4,348         $2,785,003,456
      -------------------- -------------------- ----------------------
43.   South Carolina                     $4,260         $1,746,186,161
      -------------------- -------------------- ----------------------
44.   Hawaii                             $4,051           $343,328,040
      -------------------- -------------------- ----------------------
45.   Louisiana                          $3,823         $1,829,997,502
      -------------------- -------------------- ----------------------
46.   Arkansas                           $3,617         $1,136,408,102
      -------------------- -------------------- ----------------------
47.   Texas                              $3,598         $5,426,858,323
      -------------------- -------------------- ----------------------
48.   Oklahoma                           $3,571         $1,053,669,315
      -------------------- -------------------- ----------------------
49.   Georgia                            $3,560         $2,445,901,772
      -------------------- -------------------- ----------------------
50.   Arizona                            $3,066         $1,792,240,233
      -------------------- -------------------- ----------------------
51.   California                         $2,701         $9,525,706,733
      -------------------- -------------------- ----------------------

"What's surprising is that states like California, as an example, with the highest cost of living, actually spend and receive the least funding from the federal government for Medicaid at $2,701 total funding per enrollee per year," said Lebherz. "Meanwhile, states where the cost of living is much lower, such as Maine and North Dakota, provide two and a half times that amount, at $7,691 and $7,496 respectively per enrollee," said Lebherz. "When Medicaid falls short of paying health care providers what they need in order to keep their doors open, providers have to charge private patients more and this impacts everyone in that state."

Lebherz and FHCE had uncovered these financial discrepancies after the nonprofit embarked on a public service campaign to get uninsured Americans who qualify for government benefits signed up. An earlier analysis from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association of Census Bureau statistics disclosed that nearly one-third of the 47 million uninsured in the U.S. are qualified for public programs but not signed up.

For the past four years, as part of its national "Coverage For All" campaign, the nonprofit organization has been providing educational tools and showing anyone in five simple steps whether they qualify for government-sponsored health coverage. The organization provides a free nationwide uninsured help line (1-800-234-1317) with live, one-on-one assistance 24/7. It has also created 50 unique state versions of its Health Care Options Matrix which outlines the public coverage option in each state.

The Foundation for Health Coverage Education is a non-profit 501 (c) 3 public organization based in San Jose, California and was founded in response to the increasing number of uninsured individuals who are eligible for health coverage but not enrolled. For more information, log on to www.coverageforall.org or call 1-800-234-1317.

Information about Health Coverage and Uninsured Topics

The Kaiser Family Foundation

statehealthfacts.org.

The data are based on an analysis of the Census Bureau's March 2006 and 2007 Current Population Surveys (CPS; Annual Social and Economic Supplements) and are restricted to the civilian (not active duty military) population. The state data represent 2-year averages. For a complete listing of Medicaid funding by state, go to http://www.statehealthfacts.org/comparemaptable.jsp?ind=183&cat=4&sub=47&yr=28&typ=4&sort=218&o=d.

Contact Information

  • Contacts: Marilyn Haese
    Bobbi Rubinstein
    310-556-9612