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Report: ACA Helping Cover Washington Children

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Thursday, October 29, 2015   

SEATTLE – More children in Washington now have health insurance. That's the good news according to a report from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families and the Seattle-based Children's Alliance, which credits the success of Apple Health for Kids and the Affordable Care Act in helping cut the rate of uninsured children in Washington to less than five percent – better than the national average.

Jon Gould, deputy director with the Children's Alliance, says families benefit when kids have health coverage, as well as the state's schools and economy.

"They're less likely to drop out of high school, they're more likely to graduate from college and they have better health and economic success as adults," says Gould. "There are so many benefits, not only for kids who are growing up, but also to us as a society."

Most of the 75,000 uninsured children in Washington are eligible for Apple Health for Kids, but are not enrolled.

Report co-author Joan Alker says many Washington children became covered when their parents enrolled in newly-available coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

"People don't think about Medicaid expansion as a kids' issue, but we know from past research that covering parents results in a strong what we call 'welcome mat' effect for kids," she says. "That means when the parent learns about their own coverage opportunity, they may learn their child is also eligible."

Gould says despite the encouraging numbers, significant barriers to health care persist for children of color. According to the U.S. Census, Latino and Pacific Islander children are nearly twice as likely as white children to be uninsured, and American Indian and Alaska Native children are three times more likely to remain uninsured.

"Some of those reasons are language access," says Gould. "We need more information that's available in the variety of languages that Washingtonians speak. We think when we do those improvements, we'll get to a point where every child is covered."

Nationally, the children's uninsured rate declined significantly from about seven percent in 2013 to six percent in 2014.

The Georgetown University Center for Children and Families report was released Wednesday.


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