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Progress for Idaho Noted in Children’s Health Insurance Report

PHOTO: Idaho is making progress in making sure children have health insurance, with nearly 1,000 more gaining coverage over the past two years. But the uninsured rate is above the national average, according to a new report. Photo credit: Deborah C. Smith
PHOTO: Idaho is making progress in making sure children have health insurance, with nearly 1,000 more gaining coverage over the past two years. But the uninsured rate is above the national average, according to a new report. Photo credit: Deborah C. Smith
November 7, 2014

BOISE, Idaho - Idaho is making progress in making sure children have health insurance, with nearly 1,000 more gaining coverage over the past two years. However, the uninsured rate is above the national average, according to a new report from the Georgetown Center for Children and Families.

Liz Woodruff, a policy analyst at the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy, said progress has been slow in part because of the state's refusal to accept federal Medicaid funding to extend insurance to low-income working parents.

"Closing this coverage gap will protect children," she said, "because when parents are insured, children are more likely to be insured."

About 38,000 children in Idaho - 8.9 percent - do not have health insurance; the national rate is 7.1 percent.

The report found that Hispanic children and kids in families living just above the poverty line are most likely to be uninsured.

It noted that reauthorization of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) at the federal level is an important decision next year, and said if the program is not renewed, the nation's number of uninsured children could swell to 7 million.

Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown Center, said health insurance brings many positives to children.

"We do know from a lot of research that children who have coverage - be it private or public coverage - do better in school," she said. "They have better access to primary and preventive health-care services, and their families are protected from bankruptcy that can arise from unpaid medical bills."

The uninsured rate for children is lower than Idaho's in Oregon, Washington and Wyoming and higher in Nevada and Montana.

The full report is online at ccf.georgetown.edu.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - ID