A Look at the Children's Health Insurance Issue
At last estimate, nearly 8 million children in the United States are without health insurance, but the numbers need not be that high. Many of these children are eligible for affordable health insurance including Medicare and discounted private insurance plans.
According to the US Census Bureau, uninsured children are up to 10 times more likely to suffer from unmet medical needs including injuries and general illness. Though we like to imagine that we are improving, the percentage of children facing unmet medical needs is almost identical to what that number looked like 20 years ago with the actual number of children without insurance rising every year.
Why it Matters
Uninsured children are less likely to perform well in school. Due to a disproportionate racial proliferation among the middle class, minority children are more affected than white children, with 1 in 10 white children going uninsured, 1 in 9 black children, and 1 in 6 Latino children.
A lot of options are out there for parents to get their children covered. Some employers offer coverage for an employee's entire family, but employers offering coverage at all are becoming scarce.
Finding Coverage for Your Children
For low-income families, one of the first places to look is Medicaid, for which most children from low-income families qualify. Failing that, the State Children's Health Insurance Program is intended to cover children from modest backgrounds, but whose families make too much money to qualify for Medicaid.
When to Start Looking
The problem of being uninsured is one that begins early in a child's life. In fact, at any given moment, an estimated 800,000 pregnant women are uninsured. For those who wish to carry the child to term, this means that their developing babies are not getting the care that they need to ensure a safe and healthy childbirth.
UNICEF places the US at number 27 out of 30 countries in regards to infant mortality rates. We have simply not been able to keep up with other industrialized countries when it comes to some of the most important issues. Our relatively high infant mortality rates are due in large part to a lack of insurance.
A part of the problem is that insurance is hard to obtain for some parents, but that's not the only part of the problem. As more components of the Affordable Care Act kick in, it's going to be harder and harder for parents to go without insurance, and even now, the vast majority of those 8 million uninsured children qualify for some form of public or otherwise affordable health coverage. The actual number for children who simply cannot afford insurance is quite low.
Parents who can afford robust, high-quality coverage for their children should take advantage of the wide range of options available to them, while those who cannot may want to look into into Medicaid, SCHIP and other public healthcare programs. There's no reason for your child to go without proper health insurance.