A report released today from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families celebrates historic declines in the number of uninsured children. Nationally, 95 percent of children had health coverage in 2015. Health coverage is a critical piece of the puzzle to ensure every child has the opportunity to become a healthy, productive adult.
In Arkansas, we are well in line with national rates. Only 4.9 percent of children were without health coverage in 2015, down from 5.5 percent in 2013. We know when children have access to health care, we can prevent more serious, costly health issues down the line. Children with health care are also more likely to enter each school day healthy and ready to learn. The increase in health coverage rates will result in more children being able to achieve their full potential in the years to come.
We’re celebrating this good news about children’s health because of the hard work of national and state leaders to support affordable health coverage programs. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has helped more families get covered by removing barriers to coverage for many children and sustaining affordable coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Over 30,000 more kids in Arkansas enrolled in coverage when their parents signed up for new coverage options that were created because of the ACA. When parents have health coverage, their kids are more likely to be insured, too.
However, there is still room to make even more progress in Arkansas. The rate of uninsured kids has dropped at a slower rate than most other states over the last couple of years. We can change this by implementing policies to ensure all kids have access to health insurance. These policy opportunities include removing the barriers to coverage for legally residing immigrant children and streamlining the enrollment process by implementing Express Lane Eligibility.
Arkansas Advocates will release a state-level report on the status of child health soon with more information about these policy opportunities. We will also take a closer look at the progress we’ve made on kids’ coverage and the factors driving this success. Be sure to check back soon for that report.