Overall, the news is positive: 92.8 percent of kids have insurance coverage, and the number of uninsured children in the U.S. continues to decrease. This progress comes despite persistently high rates of child poverty.
How could that be possible? We have Medicaid and CHIP to thank!
These programs constitute a big piece of the coverage puzzle for kids, and they have been especially important in the wake of the economic downturn, which led to decreasing employer-sponsored coverage rates for children. In fact, children in all income brackets except the highest one have seen increased coverage rates through Medicaid and CHIP from 2010 to 2012. In particular, the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 (CHIPRA) incentivized states to enroll eligible children in Medicaid and CHIP and enabled states to extend coverage to lawfully residing immigrant children.
With respect to the New England states, NEACH is pleased to note that all six had children’s uninsurance rates lower than the national average, with Massachusetts logging the lowest uninsurance rate in the country. (Vermont was close behind, ranking third.) New England has historically done a great job protecting children’s health coverage, and we are so pleased to support the advocates in these states who continue this work.
That said we still have much work ahead of us. There are still unenrolled children in every state. And getting kids enrolled is only the beginning—we’ve written about churn before, and it’s crucial that we support families in keeping their children covered. For example, insurance coverage in Connecticut, while strong overall, has declined modestly for children. The biggest reason children in the state have lost coverage is churn. We need to ensure parents are able to get their children covered and keep them covered. Moreover, from a health equity perspective, we have a long way to go on children’s health coverage: low-income children (under 200 percent of the federal poverty level) and Hispanic children are disproportionately represented among the uninsured. We continue to work with national partners and advocates across the New England region to secure continuous eligibility, enhanced enrollment options and simplified renewal processes – all of which can reduce churn and stabilize children’s coverage.
Georgetown Center on Children and Families’ report shows the gains we have made in children’s coverage through Medicaid and CHIP, and reinforces that there is strong support for making sure children are insured. We are excited about the potential to connect even more kids to coverage.