Georgetown University report finds progress has stalled for Kansas kids’ health

Analysis shows 38,000 Kansas children remain without health coverage.

Emily Fetsch
Nov. 7, 2019

The number of uninsured children nationwide increased by about 400,000 in the past two years, reversing nearly a decade of gains, according to a new report released by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. An estimated 4 million children were uninsured nationwide in 2018, the highest level since the major provisions of the Affordable Care Act took effect in 2014.

In Kansas, the analysis shows that progress on children’s health coverage has halted and potentially reversed course in the past two years. The state’s rate of uninsured children was dropping as recently as 2016. But the number increased by 4,000 children between 2016 and 2018, although the increase was not statistically significant.

In the same two-year period, about 14,800 fewer Kansas children were enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP. Enrollment dropped another 12,600 between December 2018 and June 2019.

Kansas is one of 14 states that has not yet expanded Medicaid. While Medicaid expansion provides coverage to uninsured parents and other adults, it also helps children. States that have expanded Medicaid and have seen large reductions in their rates of uninsured kids because when parents sign up for their own health coverage, they often realize they can also enroll their children. The Georgetown study found that children living in states that have not expanded Medicaid are twice as likely to be uninsured than those in expansion states.

Research shows that children who have health coverage are more likely to enter school ready to learn, graduate, and become productive adults. Medicaid expansion also helps children by boosting families’ financial security and enabling children to get better care from healthier parents.

Kansas’s rate of uninsured children stood at 5.1 percent in 2018, about the same as the national average, according to the analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. A close look at the state’s data shows the highest rate of uninsured children in Kansas is among families with the lowest incomes (9.2 percent).

Despite the overwhelming research showing the importance and intersection of infant and maternal health, we know not all Kansas infants and parents have access to health care in the first year of a baby’s life. Expansion of KanCare would increase the number of parents who receive health care coverage before pregnancy, bolstering the health of parent and child. Expansion will help increase healthy outcomes for children, families, and the state.

Kansas Action for Children will continue our work to make sure every Kansas child has health insurance, regardless of income level. We will advocate both for Medicaid expansion, as well as other policy solutions that make it easier for children and families to be eligible and enrolled in health insurance programs, including Medicaid and CHIP.

To learn more about KAC’s work to improve the health outcomes of Kansas children, please check out the following briefs.

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