Nation’s Youngest Children Lose Health Coverage at an Alarming Rate

Mother With Her Newborn Baby. Mother Is Holding Her Little Baby

Top Lines

  • Health coverage sets young kids up for success. Children with insurance are more likely to have better health, educational, and economic outcomes well into adulthood. #KidsHealthReport

In This Report:

Key Findings

  • The nation’s rate and number of uninsured young children (under age 6) increased significantly between 2016 and 2018, following many years of steady decline.
  • Coverage losses were widespread from 2016-2018, with 13 states showing statistically significant increases in the rate and/or number of young, uninsured children.
  • Young children are more likely to be uninsured in states that have not expanded Medicaid to parents and other adults under the Affordable Care Act, and the gap is growing.
  • Lack of health care coverage makes it more difficult for young children to get recommended check-ups, and families may miss out on opportunities for support.

Introduction

Until recently, the U.S. has experienced a consistent, annual decline in the number and rate of uninsured children in most states.1 Beginning in 2016, however, the trend reversed and the nation’s children experienced widespread coverage losses for the first time in many years. The youngest children were not spared from this inversion. As with all children, the number and rate of uninsured children under age 6 grew between 2016 and 2018, reversing years of steady progress covering the nation’s infants, toddlers, and preschool-aged children.

During the earliest months and years of life, children experience rapid brain development and physical growth, making the period before kindergarten entry a critical window to address any developmental delays or health conditions before they escalate into greater challenges.2 Health coverage is a crucial first step to ensure children receive regular check-ups to address health concerns as early as possible and receive needed vaccinations and other preventive care. It also protects families from financial risk that can come from a baby or toddler’s unexpected injury or illness.3 Health insurance for children is also linked to better health, educational, and economic outcomes well into adulthood.4

Full Report

Download and read the full report.

  1. J. Alker and L. Roygardner, “The Number of Uninsured Children is on the Rise” (Washington: Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, October 2019), available at https://ccf.georgetown.edu/wp- content/uploads/2019/10/Uninsured-Kids-Report.pdf.
  2. E. Burak, “Promoting Young Children’s Healthy Development in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)”, (Washington: Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, October 2018), available at https://ccf.georgetown.edu/2018/10/17/ promoting-young-childrens-healthy-development-in-medicaid-and-the- childrens-health-insurance-program-chip/.
  3. K. Wagnerman, “Medicaid: How Does It Provide Economic Security
    for Families?” (Washington: Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, March 2017), available at https://ccf.georgetown.edu/wp- content/uploads/2017/03/Medicaid-and-Economic-Security.pdf.
  4. K. Wagnerman, A. Chester, and J. Alker, “Medicaid is a Smart Investment in Children” (Washington: Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, March 2017), available at https://ccf.georgetown.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/MedicaidSmartInvestment.pdf.

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