Number of uninsured children increases in Kansas and nationally

For the first time in nearly a decade, the number of uninsured children in the United States, including Kansas, has increased, according to a report released Thursday. The findings raise concerns not only about the physical health of children but also their ability to succeed in school, officials said. 

“Uninsured children are more likely to have unmet health needs and lack a usual source of care,” the report by the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute said. “Untreated medical conditions such as asthma lead to missed school days and reduce children’s success in school. These findings should raise concern about the chances for all children to grow and thrive.” 

The report shows the number of uninsured Kansas children has increased from 34,000 in 2016 to 39,000 in 2017, which is a nearly 15 percent increase.  

Kansas’ uninsured rate for children of 5.2 percent in 2017 is higher than the national average of 5 percent. Kansas’ rate was 4.5 percent in 2016. The national average was 4.7 percent in 2016 and nationally, the number of children without insurance increased from 3.6 million to 3.9 million, a 7.6 percent increase. 

The report showed that most of the children who lost coverage between 2016 and 2017 live in states, such as Kansas, that have not expanded Medicaid coverage. Gov.-elect Laura Kelly has said she wants to expand Medicaid in Kansas. 

The report also warned that the recently proposed federal “public charge” changes would likely result in more uninsured children. KASB opposes the proposed change. 

“States could mitigate the coverage losses by expanding Medicaid to parents and other adults, allowing children from higher income levels to qualify for Medicaid/CHIP coverage, launching their own efforts to protect consumers and stabilize Marketplace coverage, improving enrollment and retention procedures, and/or investing in more outreach and enrollment activities directed at eligible families,” the report concluded.

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