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The number of U.S. kids without health insurance is rising for the first time in 10 years.
Texas has the highest number of children without health insurance in America, according to a new report by Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.
The report found that more than 1 in 5 uninsured kids in the U.S. live in Texas, which is 835,000 as of 2017. From 2016 to 2017, Texas saw an increase of 83,000 uninsured kids.
This is bad news for Latinos.
Latinos, set to be the largest racial/ethnic population in Texas by 2022, are already the most uninsured U.S. group.
Latino Kids and the Report
This is the second-straight year Texas has had the nation’s highest rate of uninsured children.
There are many reasons for this, experts say.
First, Texas has a greater proportion of Latino kids.
Second, Texas has the highest uninsured rate among adults. This means that kids are less likely to have insurance if their parents don’t.
State policy on CHIP also is a reason.
“In previous years, states have moved in similar but not uniform directions, reflecting the many ways state policy decisions can impact eligibility and enrollment in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP),” according to the Center for Children and Families.
“The absence of significant progress across the country suggests that even states with the best intentions were unable to withstand strong national currents to protect children from losing health coverage.”
The report also found another disturbing reason.
States like Texas that have high uninsured rates often had a larger Latino and other minority populations.
In fact, the uninsured rate among Texas Latino children climbed from 13.5% to 14.4% from 2016 to 2017.
The rate among Texas black children rose from 6.5% to 8.3%.
Other Factors Contributing to High Uninsured Rates & Solutions
There are numerous other factors contributing to the high uninsured rates:
- The individual mandate was repealed last year by the Trump administration.
- Discouraging and discriminating rhetoric against immigrants known as the “unwelcome mat”
- Many insurers withdrew from the healthcare exchanges.
- The current administration slashed grants that helped public health advocates assist Texans in signing up for insurance.
- The remaining providers raised their rates.
- Nearly half a million fewer people signed up through the exchanges during Open Enrollment.
“Texas was already doing a bad job in making sure children have health insurance and now it’s even worse,” Adriana Kohler, senior health policy analyst with Texans Care for Children, an advocacy group, told the Texas Tribune. “It’s not just about the number or percentage increase — this is disturbing for Texas families and communities who want children to get well child check-ups and everything else that health insurance means for a child.”
So what are the solutions?
Decision-makers have to work on the issue. Also, many uninsured children in Texas are eligible for insurance through Medicaid and CHIP, but many families are unaware of their options, meaning more education is needed.
For example, immigrant advocacy group Hispanic Unity of Florida holds bilingual healthcare registration events during healthcare open enrollment periods. They offer appointments with trained, bilingual application counselors at their headquarters.
“Some solutions include expanding Medicaid and allowing children to stay on Medicaid for a full year without filing income verification paperwork every six months, a policy that often has children losing coverage,” Kohler said.