More than one-third of America’s children rely on Medicaid for their health care, and more than half of Medicaid recipients are children. Medicaid’s existing structure has helped states respond to every economic downturn, natural disaster, epidemic or innovative treatment since the program was enacted in 1965. As recently as last year, Congress put forth proposals to fundamentally restructure Medicaid financing with the goal of saving money for the federal government in the short- or long-term. Ultimately, restructuring Medicaid would erode health coverage for children and families.
Medicaid Provides Needed Access to Care for Children and Families
Research shows that children and parents who rely on Medicaid for health care receive coverage that is comparable to private insurance and far better than the access accorded uninsured families. Children covered by Medicaid and those with private insurance access health care services across a variety of measures at comparable rates, while children who are uninsured access health services at lower rates.
Children’s healthy development depends to a large extent on the health and well-being of their parents and caregivers. Covering parents and caregivers helps children get the care and family financial stability they need to thrive.
Children’s health insurance coverage has reached historic levels in the United States, thanks to Medicaid, CHIP, and the ACA. The Georgetown University Center for Children and Families (CCF) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) created factsheets for the nation as well as all 51 states (including the District of Columbia). These snapshots underscore the importance of Medicaid in providing coverage for children. Sources are available here.
Research shows that Medicaid coverage improves numerous indicators of economic security for beneficiaries. By making health insurance accessible to children and parents, Medicaid keeps families healthy and also protects them from financial hardship. For millions of families, Medicaid is a lifeline that keeps them living above the poverty threshold.
Medicaid is an essential source of health coverage for the nation’s children. The program provides health coverage to children and parents in low-income families who lack access to affordable private health insurance, as well as to children with special health care needs.
Today, more than 45 million children have coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). For the nation’s youngest children, Medicaid and CHIP play an outsized role, covering 44 percent of children under the age of six, compared to 35 percent of children between the ages of six and 18.
Children enrolled in Medicaid are entitled to a comprehensive array of preventive and ameliorative care through the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit. Beyond the indecipherable acronym, EPSDT is a critically important benefit that is broadly recognized as the definitive standard for children. We’ve broken down the acronym in this fact sheet, and we’re continuing to investigate how it’s working for kids, so stay tuned for more!