The number of Pennsylvania children who are uninsured declined sharply last year as reforms began to take effect, according to a report released today. The report by Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children and Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families found that between 2014 and 2015, the uninsured rate for Pennsylvania children declined from 5.2 percent to 4.1 percent. Before expanding Medicaid, Pennsylvania had seen only a marginal decrease in uninsured children the previous year – going from 5.4 percent in 2013 to 5.2 percent in 2014.
“We’ve seen what’s working for Pennsylvania’s children and we must continue on the path to providing insurance coverage that sets our kids up for better futures,” said Joan Benso, president and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children. “Ensuring that both parents and children have coverage, along with reducing bureaucracy and red tape, is a worthwhile investment in our future.”
The 2015 data in this report does not fully capture the effects of the expansion of Medicaid because it was not in effect for the entire year. Enrollment ramped up in the first six months of 2015, and Pennsylvania will not have a full picture of the expansion’s impact until next year.
Even with the accelerated decline in uninsured children, the report shows that Pennsylvania has continued room for improvement. Only six states have more uninsured children than Pennsylvania, which means that more than 100,000 kids in the commonwealth lack basic health coverage. Pennsylvania also dropped in overall rankings of percentage of uninsured children – from 17th best in 2013 to 24th best in 2015.
Pennsylvania also has the highest rate of uninsured children of all of its neighboring states except for Ohio. The report includes data from West Virginia (2.8 percent uninsured), Maryland (3.9 percent uninsured), New Jersey (3.7 percent uninsured), New York (2.5 percent uninsured) and Ohio (4.4 percent uninsured).
Quality health coverage is essential because every child can succeed when given the chance. When it comes to setting up a child for reaching his or her potential, few things matter more than good health. When children’s health needs are met, they are better able to learn in school and parents miss fewer days of work.
“Pennsylvania should look to the best practices of other states that have used the flexibility in these programs to simplify the enrollment process for families,” said Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. “The state has a proud tradition of covering kids and it must strive to continue that legacy.”
Families who would like help enrolling their children should call 1-800-692-7462 or visit www.compass.state.pa.us.