Medicaid expansion means health coverage for full-time minimum - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Medicaid expansion means health coverage for full-time minimum wage workers

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A full time minimum wage worker in West Virginia working earns right around  $15,080 per year.  That's nearly $3,600 above the federal poverty level and previous cutoff point for medicaid assistance.

"I work all day long and don't make enough money," fast-food worker Elizabeth Farris said. "I'm worried all the time. I have three kids so my health has to be good for my kids."

Farris says she can't afford health insurance but that doesn't stop her from seeking medical care when she needs it.

"If I have to go to the doctor, I'm going to go to the doctor whether I have the money or not because I have to be healthy for my kids," she said.

That's one thing the state is trying to avoid with the new medicaid expansion, having to pay for tens of millions of dollars for uninsured medical visits with state tax money.

With the new medicaid expansion set to include workers earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, instead of cutting off everyone earning 101 percent of the poverty level and above, Faris is one of more than 91,000 working West Virginians expected to be eligible for enrollment for extra medicaid health coverage by 2016.

"Its cool that they're going to let people like me, who don't have much money, get health insurance," Farris said.

Coverage for the medicaid expansion is expected begin on January first of 2014.