New Health Care Report Outlines How to Improve Health Care Coverage Programs and Access for Every Pennsylvania Child
HARRISBURG (October 29, 2019) – Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children today released the “State of Children’s Health Care in Pennsylvania: Powering Up Healthy Kids,” a comprehensive report with a clear agenda to strengthen both access and coverage benefits in health care for the Commonwealth’s children, 124,000 of whom are uninsured, the report found.
While Pennsylvania’s uninsured rate falls below the national average, it remains stagnant at 4.4 percent, with Pennsylvania ranking in the middle of the pack at 24th for the percentage of uninsured children.
“Health insurance coverage is the connector for children to access comprehensive care to meet their physical, mental and behavioral health care needs,” said PPC President and CEO Kari King. “Every Pennsylvania child – regardless of age, zip code, income level or race – deserves equal access to opportunities to be healthy and well. However, more children than the entire population of Allentown are in a health insurance blackout.”
King said the opportunity to prosper begins with preventive health care when children are young. A healthy start includes immunizations, screenings, regular dental care, well-child visits and access to nutritious food. The report addresses the role a child’s economic, social and physical environments play in determining health outcomes, known as social determinants of health and makes the case that consideration of each is the best approach for addressing a child’s overall health. It also explores maternal health and its impact on child health outcomes.
PPC disaggregated data collected from state agencies, the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS), the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT project, and other sources to provide a variety of data points, including uninsured rates by poverty level, county and race/ethnicity. It found that among the 124,000 who are uninsured, children under six are the most likely to be without coverage. The report also outlines how to improve publicly-funded health care insurance options including the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and Medicaid.
Other key takeaways from “State of Children’s Health Care in Pennsylvania: Powering Up Healthy Kids” include:
- Children under six are less likely to have health insurance than school age children in Pennsylvania and compared to other young children across the country.
- Twenty-eight of the state’s 67 counties have a higher rate of children living in low-income families without health insurance than the statewide rate.
- Forty percent of uninsured children in Pennsylvania live in just five counties: Allegheny, Berks, Chester, Lancaster and Philadelphia.
- Disproportionality within race/ethnicity categories exists in Pennsylvania. The makeup of uninsured children under age 19 does not mirror the makeup of the population of children under age 19 in some categories. Four race/ethnicity categories are underrepresented, meaning their rates are higher, two categories are overrepresented, meaning their rates are lower, and two are proportional or nearly so to their rates in the general population.
King noted that the intention of the report is not to explore why racial disparities that could drive higher uninsured numbers are occurring but does provide likely explanations. She said her organization will delve further into racial and ethnic disparities that exist across a broader range of policy areas in the coming year.
“No child should be without health insurance. We need to increase the number of kids who are insured and improve the quality of care for kids who do have it. This will enable healthy children to be energized for life-long learning and future success and may prevent health care problems and reduce costs down the road,” Kind said.