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Hispanic Kids in Maryland More Likely to be Uninsured

Research links children’s health to school success. (alexramos10/pixabay.com)
Research links children’s health to school success. (alexramos10/pixabay.com)
January 15, 2016

BALTIMORE, Md. - Hispanic children in Maryland are more than twice as likely as other kids to have no health insurance, says a new national report. The Georgetown University Center for Children and Families says in 2014, more than 15,000 Hispanic kids in the state were uninsured.

According to Anna Davis, health policy director at Advocates for Children and Youth, immigrant families face several additional obstacles to getting coverage.

"There are language access barriers, worries about immigration consequences for themselves or family members," says Davis. "And there is the complexity of the rules themselves."

She says the vast majority of Hispanic kids in Maryland are U.S. citizens and most are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP, the Children's Health Insurance Program.

Hispanic children are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population. Sonya Schwartz, policy fellow at the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, notes that getting them enrolled in health insurance is critical, because healthy children are healthy learners.

"We have some new research available, and it shows that health coverage for children is linked to better health throughout childhood," says Schwartz. "It's linked to school success, and it's linked to improved financial security for their families."

Hispanics also are projected to be one-third of the U.S. workforce by 2050.

Davis says it's important for Maryland to close the health insurance gap for Hispanic children.

"So all Maryland kids can get the health care they need to succeed in school, and grow up to become healthy and economically secure adults," says Davis.

Open enrollment through the Maryland health insurance exchange ends on Jan. 31, but enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP is open year-round.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - MD