By Martha Heberlein
As we look ahead to full implementation of the Affordable Care Act, coverage for children has reached an all-time high, with 90% having secured coverage. Despite that good news, it still means 7.3 million remain without insurance and 65% of them are already eligible for Medicaid and CHIP but not yet enrolled. While there is still work left to do to cover all kids, their parents are uninsured in even greater numbers, with almost 12 million lacking coverage. Luckily, the two are linked and reform provides new opportunities to secure coverage for both children and their parents.
A recent report from the GAO provides additional support to a large body of research tying children’s coverage to that of their parents. The study found that children were more likely to have coverage if their parents had coverage, with the vast majority (over 84%) having the same type of coverage. They also found that 9% of families have publicly covered children, but uninsured parents. (This may be because the parents aren’t eligible for coverage – the median Medicaid income threshold for parents is just 37% of the FPL.)
With the expansion of Medicaid to more individuals in 2014, as well as the subsidized coverage in the exchanges, parents will have more coverage options than are available today. Not only will this result in a decline in the number of uninsured parents, it will likely also have a positive impact on coverage for their children.