Newly Announced Efforts to Expand Coverage to More Adults Could Cover More Kids
Despite Pennsylvania's longstanding status as a state of "universal coverage" for all documented children, the commonwealth is home to more than 144,000 children who lack health insurance, according to the latest annual State of Children's Health Care report from Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children.
The number equates to about 1 in 20 of Pennsylvania's children lacking insurance – a statistic that has remain relatively unchanged in recent years.
PPC President and CEO Joan Benso said the federal government's recent decision to approve Pennsylvania's Healthy PA waiver can have a "ripple effect" of covering more children.
"We know from research that parents who have insurance are more likely to keep their children insured," Benso said. "So our hope is that as more parents come into the insurance marketplace through the Healthy PA waiver, it will result in more children having coverage and we can finally start seeing a substantive decline in the number of uninsured kids."
PPC's first State of Children's Health Care report, issued in 2012, found Pennsylvania had 153,307 uninsured children – or about 5.5 percent of the commonwealth's child population. The number dropped to 147,684 (5.3 percent) in our 2013 report and has since fallen to 144,289 (5.2 percent).
"While these modest declines in the number of uninsured children are a positive sign, it's clear that Pennsylvania needs a more aggressive strategy if we want to reach the goal of covering all kids," Benso said. "The fact is there is no reason any documented child in Pennsylvania should be uninsured, given programs like Pennsylvania's Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Medicaid offer affordable coverage for every child regardless of household income."
The report found even among children who are insured, more can be done to make sure insurance coverage is being used in a preventive, cost-effective manner. Of the approximately 1.26 million Pennsylvania children insured through Medicaid or CHIP:
The State of Children's Health Care report uses various health indicators to provide a data-driven snapshot of children's health care in Pennsylvania – its successes, limitations and challenges – to help monitor the impact health care reform is having on physical and behavioral health care for children.