Children’s Uninsured Rate Rises by Largest Annual Jump in More Than a Decade

In This Report:

Key Findings

  • After reaching a historic low of 4.7 percent in 2016, the child uninsured rate began to increase in 2017, and as of 2019 jumped back up to 5.7 percent. This increase of a full percentage point translates to approximately 726,000 more children without health insurance since the beginning of the Trump Administration when the number of uninsured children began to rise. Much of the gain in coverage that children made as a consequence of the Affordable Care Act’s major coverage expansions implemented in 2014 has now been eliminated.
  • The number of uninsured children increased every year during the Trump Administration. The largest increase was observed between 2018 and 2019 when, despite a continued strong economy, the number of children without health insurance rose by 320,000. This increase in the number of uninsured children was the largest annual jump seen in more than a decade. Moreover, since this data was collected prior to the pandemic, the number of uninsured children is likely considerably higher in 2020, as families have lost their jobs and employer-sponsored insurance, though it is impossible to know yet by precisely how much.
  • One-third of the total increase in the number of uninsured children from 2016 to 2019 live in Texas. The state saw by far the greatest coverage loss over the period with an estimated 243,000 more children living without health coverage. Florida has the next biggest loss, adding about 55,000 children to the uninsured count over the three-year period. As a consequence, 41 percent of children’s coverage losses during the Trump Administration occurred in Texas and Florida. Twenty-nine states experienced an adverse change for children from 2016 to 2019. The only state that bucked national trends and significantly reduced its number of uninsured children during this three-year time period was New York.
  • These coverage losses were widespread across income, age, and race/ethnicity, but were largest among White and especially Latino children (who can be of any race).


For many years, the United States was on a positive trajectory in reducing the number and rate of uninsured children; in 2016, the nation attained a historic low of 3.6 million uninsured children. This progress occurred as a result of expansions of public coverage—primarily Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)—and was accelerated by the implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) major coverage expansions in 2014. As employer-sponsored insurance became increasingly unaffordable for dependents, public coverage ameliorated the impacts of private coverage losses for children. However, the number of uninsured children began to increase in 2017 as Medicaid enrollment began to decline, and as Figure 1 shows, reached 4.4 million in 2019. This represents an increase of 726,000 children during this three-year period. The rate of uninsured children rose a full percentage point from 4.7 percent to 5.7 percent. Much of the gain in coverage that children made as a consequence of the ACA’s major coverage expansions has now been eliminated. Moreover, the most recent year of data (2018 to 2019) shows the biggest one-year loss in children’s coverage during this time period, with 320,000 more children becoming uninsured. These coverage losses occurred in a healthy economy with the lowest unemployment rate in decades prior to the economic shocks and job loss associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Full Report

Download the full report

Interactive State-by-State Child Health Care Report

Explore state data on the interactive child healthcare report card


Speakers from Georgetown University CCF, Unidos-US, Children’s Defense Fund of Texas and Children’s Action Alliance of Arizona discuss the report findings on a webinar.

Press Release

Georgetown University CCF Press Release

Statement by Leading Children’s Health Groups

Social Media Toolkit

Graphics and other resources to support social media engagement