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Report: Fewer Uninsured Children in Ohio, But Work Remains

New research shows Ohio's rate of uninsured children is 4.8 percent. Credit: M. Kuhlman
New research shows Ohio's rate of uninsured children is 4.8 percent. Credit: M. Kuhlman
October 29, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio is making gains in children's health coverage, according to a new report from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.

The center’s research shows Ohio's rate of uninsured children was 4.8 percent in 2014, down from 5.3 percent in 2013.

Sandy Oxley, chief executive officer of the advocacy group Voices for Ohio Children, says the data shows that Medicaid expansion, along with efforts to streamline enrollment and prevent children from going on and off of coverage have paid off.

"That decrease in the turn rate and having 12 months continuous eligibility for kids, presumptive eligibility for pregnant women and children, some of those simplification measures have gone a long way in decreasing our number of uninsured children," she states.

Nationally, the rate of no insurance among kids dropped to a historic low of 6 percent in 2014. And states that extended Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act experienced nearly double the rate of decline in uninsured children as compared with states that did not.

Joan Alker, executive director of the Center for Children and Families, says uninsured children are more likely to be school age and of Hispanic ethnicity. And she adds that rates also differ based on location and income.

"Rural areas have higher rates of uninsured children than urban areas, and interestingly it's not the poorest children with the highest rate of uninsurance,” she points out. “It's that group that's just above poverty, the low-wage working families that have the highest rate of uninsured kids."

The report ranks Ohio 21st among states for its rate of children without health care coverage. And Oxley notes that with 126,000 uninsured Ohio children, there's still work to be done.

"We have to continue to strengthen Medicaid and Ohio's Healthy Start program so that we can work toward a future where every child's safe, healthy, educated, connected and employable," she stresses.

Meanwhile, the 2015 Ohio Medicaid Assessment Survey, which uses a different methodology and newer data, found that the rate of uninsured children actually is even lower, at just 2 percent in the first half of 2015.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH