Number of Uninsured Children in U.S. Increasing, Study Finds

Number of Uninsured Children in U.S. Increasing, Study Finds

The number of uninsured children nationwide increased by more than four hundred thousand between 2016 and 2018, a report from the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute finds.

Based on the findings of the U.S. Census Bureau's annual American Community Survey, the report, The Number of Uninsured Children Is On the Rise (19 pages, PDF), found that the number of uninsured children in the United States has passed four million, erasing much of the coverage gains made following implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The report also found that loss of coverage is most pronounced among white and Latino children (a number of which are tracked in both categories), children under the age of six, and children in low- and moderate-income families (earning between $29,435 and $53,325 annually for a family of three).

According to the report, the loss of coverage is widespread, with fifteen states recording statistically significant increases in the number of uninsured children, although half of those children live in one of six states — Texas (with more than 20 percent), Florida, California, Georgia, Arizona, and Ohio. In addition, states that have not expanded Medicaid under the ACA have seen increases in their rate of uninsured children three times as large as states that have, with children in non-expansion states almost twice as likely to be uninsured as those in states that have.

"Continuous health coverage is essential for children — improving their access to needed preventive and routine care; improving their health, educational, and economic outcomes as adults; and protecting their families from medical debt and bankruptcy when a child breaks a bone, or worse, has cancer," the report's co-authors, Joan Alker and Lauren Roygardner, write. "There are no signs that this disturbing trend in children’s health coverage will abate unless national and state leaders fully rededicate themselves on a bipartisan basis to the goal of ensuring that all children have access to affordable, comprehensive health insurance."

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"The Number of Uninsured Children Is On the Rise." David and Lucile Packard Foundation Press Release 10/30/2019.