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ACA Helps Bring Child Uninsured Rates to Record Low

One year after the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, the uninsured rate for kids is at a historic low, according to a new report. Credit: Gpointstudio/iStockphoto.
One year after the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, the uninsured rate for kids is at a historic low, according to a new report. Credit: Gpointstudio/iStockphoto.
October 28, 2015

DENVER - More children in Colorado and the nation have health coverage. According to a new report by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, the rate of uninsured children dropped to a historic low of 6 percent in 2014, the year the Affordable Care Act went into effect.

Chris Watney, chief executive of the Colorado Children's Campaign, cited the state's decision to expand Medicaid under the ACA as a big reason for increased coverage. She said the move helped create what she called a welcome-mat effect for adults looking for insurance.

"When we do good things - like expand Medicaid eligibility for families and adults - we see this rebound effect," she said, "which is that they then realize, 'Oh, there's also programs that support having my kids be covered.' So it's really a whole family approach."

Colorado saw one of the sharpest declines in uninsured children, according to the study, down from an estimated 102,000 in 2013 to slightly more than 70,000 in 2014. While the overall gains are positive, Watney said, there's still work to do. According to the study, almost 4.4 million children in the United States still don't have health insurance.

After the rollout of the ACA, the report found, 25 states recorded declines in the number of uninsured children, and no state showed significant increases. Joan Alker, executive director at Georgetown University's Center for Children and Families, said the study confirms that years of work by policymakers and other stakeholders to reform health care in the United States is starting to pay off.

"The Affordable Care Act, which is a very significant domestic-policy initiative, was really building on a decade of success for kids with Medicaid and CHIP," she said, "but we did see a significant decline from 7.1 percent to 6 percent in the rate of uninsured kids."

The report also found that Hispanic and school-aged children were disproportionately uninsured, as well as children living in rural areas or low-income families. If more states decide to expand adult eligibility for Medicaid coverage, Alker said, uninsured rates for children could drop even further.

The report is online at ccf.georgetown.edu.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO