California Sees Largest Drop in Number of Uninsured Children

California has seen the largest decline in the number of uninsured children since the Affordable Care Act took effect, according to a report by Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families, the Public News Service reports (Potter, Public News Service, 10/29).

The report was based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (Innes, Arizona Daily Star, 10/28). It looked at the rates of change in children’s health coverage between 2013 and 2014 (Center for Children and Families report, 10/27).

National Findings

Nationally, the uninsured rate among children in 2014 reached a historic low at 6%.

According to the report, about 50% — or 4.4 million — of the country’s uninsured children lived in six states:

  • Arizona;
  • California;
  • Florida;
  • Georgia;
  • Pennsylvania; and
  • Texas.

The report found that a disproportionate number of uninsured children:

  • Lived in the South or in rural areas;
  • Were Hispanic; and
  • Were school aged (Arizona Daily Star, 10/28).

California Findings

In California, the uninsured rate among children in 2014 was 5.4% (Public News Service, 10/29). In comparison, the rate was:

  • 1.5% in Massachusetts — the lowest in the country; and
  • 11.4% in Alaska — the highest in the country.

Meanwhile, California saw the greatest change in the number of uninsured children, with a drop of about 176,000 (Waller, San Angelo Standard-Times, 10/28).

Joan Alker, co-author of the report and executive director of the Georgetown Center for Children and Families, said states that expanded their Medicaid programs — including California — saw the largest declines (Arizona Daily Star, 10/28).

Alker said, “People don’t think about Medicaid expansion as a kids’ issue, but we know from past research that covering parents results in what we call a strong ‘welcome-mat’ effect for kids,” adding, “That means when the parent learns about their own coverage opportunity, they may learn their child is also eligible” (Public News Service, 10/29).

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