Coverage for Children Under 6 Reversed Course Between 2016 and 2017

For the first time in nearly a decade, the rate of young children without health insurance significantly increased between 2016 and 2017, reversing years of steady progress in reducing the nation’s uninsured rate for children, particularly in the early years.

Mirroring national trends for children age 18 and under, state Medicaid coverage rates for children under age 6 either remained flat or declined, adding a more troubling dimension to the nation’s first backslide in children’s coverage since 2008, the first year for which the U.s. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey began collecting this data.

Nationally, the rate of uninsured young children increased significantly, growing from 3.8 percent in 2016 to 4.2 percent in 2017 (see Figure 1). That trend follows the national increase in the uninsured rate for all children under 19, which grew from 4.7 percent in 2016 to 5 percent in 2017.

No state made progress in covering more young children, and five states—Florida, Kentucky, Montana, New York, and Tennessee—saw statistically significant increases in their rates of uninsured children under age 6 (see Table 1).

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