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More KY Kids Are Getting Health Insurance

The number of kids in Kentucky without health insurance has plummeted to 4.3 percent, according to a new report. Credit Greg Stotelmyer.
The number of kids in Kentucky without health insurance has plummeted to 4.3 percent, according to a new report. Credit Greg Stotelmyer.
October 28, 2015

FRANKFORT, Ky. - Kentucky and other states where Medicaid was expanded under the Affordable Care Act are recording bigger declines in uninsured children, according to a new report.

Nationwide, the number of kids without insurance dropped to a record-low 6 percent last year. It's even lower in Kentucky at 4.3 percent, the 15th-lowest percentage in the United States.

Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, said the health-care reform law has triggered what's known as the "welcome mat" effect.

"If I'm a mom or dad, and I've picked up coverage, it's the most natural question in the world to ask, 'Is my kid covered?' - and the answer is no, then I start investigating how do I get them covered," he said. "The spinoff is that more kids are covered because more parents are covered."

The report from Georgetown University's Center for Children and Families said the number of Kentucky children without health insurance fell by 27 percent from 2013 to 2014, from just under 60,000 to more than 43,000. Nationwide, nearly 4.4 million kids remain uninsured.

Joan Alker, executive director of Georgetown University's Center for Children and Families, said there were significant declines in the number of uninsured children in 25 states, and no state reported a significant increase.

"We found nearly double the rate of decline in uninsured kids that accepted the Medicaid expansion option," she said, "even though these states already had fewer uninsured kids to begin with."

Brooks said Kentucky's momentum began in 2009 when the state launched a public initiative to cover more children, in part by eliminating the requirement for face-to-face interviews to sign up. It's a huge benefit to the state when more children receive the physical, oral and mental health care they need, he said.

"If I have that earache or toothache, I'm really not going to care a whole lot about multiplication tables," he said. "And so we know that health and academic achievement, health and safety, are inextricably linked."

The report is online at ccf.georgetown.edu.

Greg Stotelmyer , Public News Service - KY