April 27, 2016

U.S.A. reaches goal of 95% health insurance coverage for children but Utah lags behind

In 2007, on the 10th anniversary of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and its partners committed to helping ensure that 95% of the nation’s children ages 0 to 18 had health insurance. This year the nation reached this historic goal, according to the Urban Institute’s report: Uninsurance among Children, 1997–2015 : Long-Term Trends and Recent Patterns. The success of CHIP and the expansion of Medicaid in many states were critical for reaching these historic numbers for health insurance coverage.

However, Utah lags the nation, with only 90.6% of Utah children insured. In fact, Utah ranks among the bottom of all states for children’s health insurance coverage and Utah Hispanic children are particularly unlikely to have health insurance. Nationwide, 9.7% of Hispanic children are uninsured but 23.4% of Utah Hispanic children are uninsured.

Children with access to quality, comprehensive health coverage are more likely to attend school and stay focused on learning. Healthier children means parents take fewer days off work to care for a sick child. It also means parents don’t have to choose between paying a medical bill or paying rent.

How can we get more Utah kids covered?

  • medicaid expansion 1Follow through with the work begun at the 2016 Legislature. During the recent session, Utah lawmakers added intent language to end the 5-year wait for lawfully residing immigrant children, agreed to study options to improve enrollment in Medicaid, and allocated funding to Medicaid and CHIP outreach for the first time in years. Let’s finish what we started.
  • Cover the gap. States that fully expanded Medicaid saw more improvement in children’s health insurance coverage than states like Utah. Utah lawmakers chose to leave money on the table in Washington rather than fully cover the gap. Expanding Medicaid would help Utah address Utah’s low enrollment of eligible children in Medicaid and CHIP, as newly eligible adults enroll their whole families.
  • Extend CHIP. CHIP funding is scheduled to end in 2017 despite its overwhelming success.

Now that the goal of getting 95% of children insured has been met nationally, the Packard Foundation has announced a new commitment to reach 98% coverage for our nation’s children. By the time the nation meets this new goal, we hope to be able to say that Utah kids are just as likely to be insured as children across the nation. Let’s catch up now.

PackardFoundation 95 Infographic

For 30 years now, Voices for Utah Children has called on our state, federal and local leaders to put children’s needs first. But the work is not done. The children of 30 years ago now have children of their own. Too many of these children are growing up in poverty, without access to healthcare or quality educational opportunities.

How can you be involved?

Make a tax-deductible donation to Voices for Utah Children—or join our Network with a monthly donation of $20 or more.  Network membership includes complimentary admission to Network events with food, socializing, and opportunity to meet child advocacy experts. And don't forget to join our listserv to stay informed!

We look forward to the future of Voices for Utah Children and we hope you will be a part of our next 30 years.

Special thanks to American Express for sponsoring our 30th Anniversary Year. Amex