Medicaid expansion in Kentucky has made health care accessible for thousands of people across the state. More than half of the people newly eligible for coverage through kynect are adults who work in jobs that form the foundation of the state’s economy, according to Dee Mahan, director of Medicaid advocacy for Families USA.

“These are jobs that touch many parts of the state’s economy,” she said. 

According to Families USA, 55 percent of uninsured adults now eligible for Medicaid coverage through kynect work in one of the industries considered crucial to Kentucky’s economy.

Food service is the job sector with the most uninsured workers who qualify for Medicaid. Roughly 28,000 of the 170,000 working Kentuckians eligible for coverage are employed in the food service industry, according to data from Families USA. Other sectors where such workers are heavily employed include sales, transportation, cleaning and maintenance, construction and health care support. 

Making health care more available positively impacts the economy because of its benefits for workers, Mahan said. “It means a healthier, more productive workforce,” she said.  

The increased availability of coverage is crucial for people in these sectors of the workforce because they tend to hold jobs that don’t include health care as a benefit, according to Emily Beauregard, executive director of Kentucky Voices for Health.

“By keeping them healthy, we keep the workforce healthy,” she said.  

Expansions in Medicaid have also led to more jobs in Kentucky and an expansion of the state’s medical care industry, she said.

“More people are covered,” she said. “That means there’s more payments being made.”

Federal funding also resulted in an increase of money going to medical facilities, which hospitals and clinics can spend on improvements, she said.    

People new to the health care system have been making use of it, according to Beauregard. The newly insured are ordering more screenings for diseases like cancer and diabetes and other preventive care measures. 

“These folks ... are being proactive with their health,” she said.  

— Follow Daily News reporter Jackson French on Twitter at twitter.com/Jackson_French or visit bgdailynews.com

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