Rate of Uninsured Kids Rises

Arizona…..we’ve got some work to do. A new report from Georgetown University points out the number of uninsured children in our state ranks among the worst in the nation. From AzCentral.com:

Arizona has made improvements in reducing its rate of uninsured children but still ranked worse than most other states in 2017, a new report from Georgetown University said.

The report, released Thursday, identified Arizona as one of 12 states with “significantly higher” rates of uninsured children — 7.7 percent —  than the 2017 national average of 5 percent.

The rate is important, child advocates say because kids need health care to succeed. 

The eighth annual report said 133,000 children 18 and younger in Arizona did not have health insurance in 2017, up from 132,000 the previous year.

The story went on to say, “Both Latino and American Indian children fared worse than the average, with 15.2 percent of American Indian and nearly 10 percent of Latino children in Arizona going uninsured last year.”

Arizona is not alone. Nationally, the number of uninsured children rose for the first time in a decade. TheHill.com wrote, “An estimated 3.9 million children did not have health insurance in 2017, an increase of 276,000 compared to the previous year.”

No state made statistically significant progress on children’s coverage last year, despite an improving economy and low unemployment rate….Three-quarters of the children who lost coverage between 2016 and 2017 live in states that have not expanded Medicaid coverage to parents and other low-income adults, the report found. The uninsured rates for children in non-expansion states increased at almost triple the rate as states that have expanded Medicaid.

Kaiser Health News quoted Joan Alker, co-author of the study and executive director of Georgetown’s Center for Children and Families, as saying, “The nation is going backwards on insuring kids and it is likely to get worse.”

The Los Angeles Times added that Pediatricians and public health experts both say health insurance is critical for kids to get the care they need….particularly health screenings and vaccinations.

“Coverage is just so critical for kids,” said Dr. Dennis Cooley, a pediatrician in Topeka, Kan., who chairs the American Academy of Pediatrics’ subcommittee on access to care. “When kids have coverage, they come in when they should. The result is you can pick up illnesses early on and catch developmental issues early before they get worse.”

So, how can we do a better job here in Arizona (and across the nation) to make sure our kids are covered? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Generating meaningful conversations around the health issues making headlines is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!

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