Kids who have health coverage do better in school and have better health, educational, and economic outcomes as adults. Unfortunately, a new report from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families shows that an estimated 83,000 Missouri children were uninsured in 2018, an increase of approximately 17 percent since 2016.
- Missouri saw a significant increase in both the number of uninsured kids AND the rate of uninsured children.
- The increase is particularly troubling when combined with the more than 100,000 children who have fallen off Medicaid and CHIP in Missouri over the past couple years.
- These alarming trends took place during a period of economic growth when children should be gaining health coverage.
Missouri is among the dwindling number of states that have not expanded Medicaid. States that have not expanded Medicaid experienced a three times greater increase in their rate of uninsured children than states that have accepted federal funding to expand Medicaid.
What’s more, the census data included in the report may not fully reflect the extent of children’s coverage loss.
- The recently released Census data is self-report. But many families who have lost Medicaid and CHIP coverage only found out when they saw a doctor or tried to refill a medication. If they were unaware that coverage had been terminated, they wouldn’t report being uninsured.
- The Census data is also a snapshot in time – so coverage for many families may have been lost after the survey response was recorded
Nationwide, the report showed that the number of uninsured children increased by 400,000 between 2016 and 2018, reversing a long-standing positive trend. More than 4 million children were uninsured in 2018, the highest level since the Affordable Care Act’s major coverage expansions first took effect in 2014.
Continuous health coverage is critical for kids, families, and communities, but a number of state and federal policies have made it harder to obtain and keep Medicaid and CHIP health coverage. Missouri can do better to make sure our kids have the health insurance they need to ensure preventive care and control chronic conditions. Implementing 12-month continuous coverage, boosting outreach, and addressing enrollment barriers would help to ensure Missouri kids are covered.