Number of Uninsured Children Rises To 4.3 Million

According to recent census data release, nearly 4.3 million children were uninsured back in 2018. This is the first time the census reports such increase since 2009 before the ObamaCare was enacted and helped expand coverage. The total uninsured rate went from 7.9 percent in 2017 to 8.5 percent in 2018. Census officials say the increase was essentially caused by a decline in the number of people, especially children covered by programs such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

The rate of uninsured children went up to 4.3 million children in 2018 with a total of 425,000 children uninsured. Most of these kids live in the South of the United States. The uninsured rate for children in this area went up to 7.7 percent with Hispanics kids being the largest uninsured group at 8.7% percent. Harmful policies that discourage immigrant families from enrolling in Medicaid and CHIP have in part contributed to the loss of coverage for Hispanic children, including adding more requirements to Medicaid that beneficiaries must maintain to keep coverage.  Other groups were at 4.1% to 4.6%.   

States that expanded Medicaid eligibility have seen the largest coverage decline for children. Private insurance stayed flat, but Children enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP went from 36.5% to 35.3%. The Census Bureau Data that shows the increase is quite alarming and a warning signal that coverage losses for children may continue to worsen.

One of the things census reports looked at was poverty rates. The median household income was steady at over $63,179 in 2018 with nearly 11.9 million children living in poverty. That’s defined as a family with two adults and two children with an annual income below $25,465. This rate dropped from 17.4% to 16.25%, but it continued higher for adults, increasing to about 12.3%.

The rise in the number of uninsured people is also linked to unemployment rates. Typically, when unemployment rates drop, the uninsured rates will either fall or hold steady. The United States unemployment rates fell from 4.3% in 2017 to 4% in 2018. Healthcare advocates blame the cuts on outreach programs that help consumers understand their options under ObamaCare. If the economy is getting better, health coverage should also improve.

The Trump administration set a new rule to go into effect next year where employers will provide workers with the funds so that they can buy coverage on their own. In other words, instead of working with an insurer, employees can use those funds to buy coverage themselves either through ACA or off. Overall, this may increase individual coverage and reduce employer coverage. The White House is expecting about 800,000 employers and 11 million employees with their families to benefit from this option. It’s a good step towards more flexibility in health coverage. But like everything else out there, some people may like it and others may not. Large employers are not expected to join immediately as the unemployment rate nears a historic low. Also, there aren’t many providers selling individual plans, and out-of-pocket maximums/limits are higher with limited networks and less availability outside the network.  

Sources
  • https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhis/earlyrelease/insur201905.pdf

  • https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2019/09/uninsured-rate-for-children-in-2018.html

  • https://www.modernhealthcare.com/assets/pdf/CH1180631127.PDF

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