Latino Child Health Coverage Rate Reaches Record High, But Threats Loom

By Steven T. Lopez, Manager, NCLR Health Policy Project, and Sonya Schwartz, Research Fellow, Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy’s Center for Children and Families

Latino children with health coverage reached a record high 92.5 percent in 2015, the second year after key provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) took effect, according to our new joint report with the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. These gains are part of larger overall coverage gains for America’s children. For the first time in U.S. history, more than 95 percent of all children have health coverage.

But until every child has the opportunity to receive health coverage, it is crucial for us to continue to build on the progress that has already been made.

Looking back more than a decade, we can see just how far we have come in covering more Latino children. In 2000, around 26 percent of Latino children were uninsured. Fast forward to 2013, right before major coverage provisions of the ACA took effect, and two million Latino children, or 11.5 percent, were uninsured.

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Ensuring Our Kids Have a Healthy Summer

On Tuesday, June 7, NCLR joined another weekly #SaludTues Twitter chat to discuss children’s health and how parents can ensure their kids stay healthy over the summer. Because students are on summer vacation, they may lack access to regular nutritious meals and the routine that the school year provides. Luckily, there are many ways parents can keep their young ones healthy throughout the hot summer months.

Below are selected highlights from our chat:

A Victory for Children’s Health in Arizona

12973164_10153601388876247_1216544096698163255_oLast week, a bipartisan effort in the Arizona state legislature secured passage of legislation to unfreeze KidsCare, the state’s version of the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program. In doing so, Democrats and Republicans came together to restore a critical program that will provide thousands of children with the opportunity and the ability to live a healthy life.

This is a big win for children and families across the state. With the restoration of KidsCare, children living in families who earn a little too much to qualify for Medicaid, but still lack affordable coverage options through the private market, now have access to health coverage. The state’s Medicaid agency estimates that the restoration of KidsCare will provide between 30,000 and 40,000 children with affordable health coverage specifically designed for kids.

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The Benefits of Restoring KidsCare for Arizona’s Children and Families

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Photo: Children’s Action Alliance facebook page

All children deserve the opportunity to grow up healthy and thrive, and access to quality, affordable health coverage is critical to making that happen. Research shows that children with health coverage have greater academic success and increased economic opportunities as adults. However, for too many children in Arizona, this opportunity is out of reach. Arizona is the only state in the country without an active Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), known as KidsCare in Arizona, a key coverage option for low-income children whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but may not be able to afford coverage in the ACA’s Health Insurance Marketplace.

Increasing opportunities for health coverage in Arizona is particularly important for Latino children. With one out of eight Latino children in Arizona uninsured, or 89,000 children, Arizona has the fourth-highest number of uninsured Latino children in the country, behind only California, Texas, and Florida. Programs like KidsCare are especially meaningful for Latino children and their families. A recent survey of CHIP enrollment numbers in 10 states found that Latino children accounted for more than half of enrollees. In neighboring Nevada, which recently leapfrogged Arizona in the children’s health insurance rankings, more than 75 percent of CHIP enrollees are Latino.

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With Gains in Health Coverage, Latino Children also Gain More Equitable Opportunities for Success

By Steven Lopez, Health Policy Project, NCLR and Sonya Scwhartz, Georgetown University Center for Children and Families

Our new report with Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families finds that the uninsured rate for Hispanic kids hit a historic low and the coverage gap between Hispanic kids and their peers narrowed considerably in 2014, the year the Affordable Care Act (ACA) took effect. Credit for this success goes to the ACA, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and actions by states to help connect more Hispanic kids with coverage. historic_low_line  This is great news for Hispanic kids and for our nation as a whole. Hispanic children are a vital part of our nation’s future. They are the fastest-growing segment of the population—growing from one in four children today to one in three children by 2050—and will be our nation’s future doctors, teachers, and workers. A new body of research underscores the importance of affordable, high-quality health coverage during childhood. Having health coverage is linked to school success, better health throughout childhood, and improved financial security for families.

Despite these gains, about 1.7 million Hispanic children still go without health coverage and Hispanic children continue to be more likely to be uninsured than other children. And health coverage inequities for Hispanic children remain. An estimated 9.7% of Hispanic children were uninsured in 2014 compared to 6% of all children. These figures underscore the importance of closing this coverage gap.

eligibility_2_of_3The good news is that we can continue to make a dent in these numbers. Sixty-six percent of uninsured Hispanic children are estimated to be eligible for Medicaid and CHIP but unenrolled. Even though the vast majority (93 percent) of Hispanic children are U.S. citizens, they lag behind other American children when it comes to health insurance because their families face multiple barriers to enrollment. These barriers include language access challenges, worries about immigration-related consequences for their family members, and the complexity of eligibility rules.

In these last weeks of open enrollment for HealthCare.gov and state marketplaces, we families_face_barriershave a great opportunity to reach our community and encourage parents to enroll for coverage along with their children. And we can continue to encourage families to enroll their kids in Medicaid and CHIP all year long. Through these efforts, more Hispanic children will not only gain health coverage but a more equitable opportunity for success in school, work, and as participants in society at large.

success_in_new_yorkShare this information with any families you know who may be eligible for coverage. Remember: open enrollment for the marketplace ends on January 31, but Medicaid and CHIP are open for coverage all year! For more information, visit InsureKidsNow.gov or call (877) KIDS NOW (1-877-543-7669).