Nearly 480,000 North Carolinians have enrolled in Medicaid since the state expanded eligibility in December, according to the latest available numbers.

State officials estimated around 600,000 people would have access to health coverage through expansion. In less than a year they're already closing in on that goal.

North Carolina Justice Center Health Policy Advocate Rebecca Cerese says the state understood the need to work with trusted messengers in communities to enroll residents.

"They made a really big effort to reach out to not just bigger organizations like the North Carolina Justice Center, but community organizations across the state, realizing that's the best way to get the word out," she says. "Once you get the word out about it, and then, you know, utilize the messages that we have, I mean the product sells itself. Who doesn't want to protect themselves from medical debt?" 

According to a study by the Peterson Center on Healthcare and KFF, nearly one in twelve adults across the country carry medical debt. This affects over 13% of North Carolinians, with only four other states having a higher share of its residents impacted.

Cerese says working to eliminate a stigma around Medicaid and showing it's for everyday people has also helped enrollment efforts.

As of June, Guilford County had nearly 28,000 enrollees while Forsyth County had more than 18,000.

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