New Report Shows Public Coverage Increases Insurance Rates Among Vulnerable Children

In a recently released report on children’s coverage trends from State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC), analysis shows the number of uninsured children decreased by 2.2 million, or 2.9 percentage points, between 2013 and 2016.

Though private and public coverage both increased over the period, children with public coverage experienced larger coverage increases, with coverage increasing 1.8 percentage points compared to 1.1 percentage points in private coverage. Also, California, Texas, Florida, Georgia, and Arizona together accounted for almost half of the decrease in the number of uninsured children at 48 percent of the national total.

What I found most compelling is that the largest drops in children’s uninsurance occurred among Hispanic and non-white children, low-income children, and children in households with low levels of education, groups that have historically experienced high uninsurance rates. According to the report, these drops were driven by gains in public health coverage.  

Public coverage, including programs such as Medicaid and CHIP, is especially important for the children represented within these groups because it increases access to care. And when there’s increased access to care, children are more likely to have consistent sources of care and to have their health needs met. Similarly, through Medicaid and CHIP, children are more likely to get the appropriate and comprehensive pediatric services they need — everything from well-child exams and screenings to services that treat physical and mental illnesses.

While significant accomplishments have been made in improving coverage for children, 3.6 million remained uninsured in 2016. More information on children’s coverage can found in our annual 50-State Report which provides state and national data on uninsured children.