Covering Parents and Caregivers Helps Kids – Many Gained Health Coverage Through the ACA

While we focus a lot on the critical importance of health coverage for children, we are equally mindful of the importance of parent coverage and its impacts on children. Say Ahhh! readers well know some of the important ways in which covering parents helps kids. Providing coverage to parents rolls out a welcome matmeaning more eligible children get enrolled in their own coverage. Coverage for parents and kids also improves families’ financial security. What we also know, but have discussed less here, is that helping parents and caregivers get the healthcare they need impacts children’s healthy development.

Our colleagues in the early childhood community (see Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child or Zero to Three, for example) have many resources on the importance of parent- or caregiver-interactions to a child’s ability to grow and thrive in school and in life—particularly, but not exclusively, during their early brain development. These relationships are also vital to mitigating the negative long-term effects of childhood trauma that children may experience—outcomes that can cost billions down the line in the health care system alone. Our new fact sheet explains why parent and caregiver health is so important to a child’s development.

 The Affordable Care Act, especially Medicaid expansion, has helped many parents and caregivers access affordable health coverage for the first time. We learned last week that as many as 30 million Americans—millions of them parents and other caregivers— would lose health coverage through marketplaces or Medicaid under an ACA repeal. In addition to more than doubling the number of uninsured children (not to mention threats to come down the road for children and family coverage), ACA repeal without a simultaneous replacement plan would further pull the rug out from under families by adding health access challenges and financial strains that, in turn, could create new barriers to children’s ability to grow and thrive.

Elisabeth Wright Burak is a Senior Fellow at the Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy’s Center for Children and Families.