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Ohio Moves the Needle in Children's Health Coverage

Ohio has made significant progress in reducing the number of uninsured children. (Phillipe Put/Flickr)
Ohio has made significant progress in reducing the number of uninsured children. (Phillipe Put/Flickr)
October 27, 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio – It's being called a historic milestone.

A report released today shows 95 percent of children in the U.S. had health care coverage in 2015, following the largest two-year decline of the uninsured rate on record.

In Ohio, the uninsured rate for children dropped by 19 percent between 2013 and 2015, according to the analysis from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.

Brandi Slaughter, CEO of the advocacy group Voices for Ohio's Children, credits the decline to the Affordable Care Act, as well as outreach efforts by advocates on the ground to ensure Ohio's children have health insurance.

"We want to make sure that 100 percent of kids that need coverage have coverage so we'll keep working and we'll keep fighting, but certainly these gains are encouraging,” she states.

The report also found Ohio's uninsured rate of 4.4 percent is slightly less than the national average, ranking 29th among states.

Joan Alker, executive director of Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families and the report's lead author, notes the drop in the number of uninsured children was widespread across income, racial and geographic lines.

And she adds surveys show that the public is not aware of this positive trend.

"We just did a poll and about half of Americans thought the number of uninsured children was actually increasing,” she explains. “Only 28 percent were aware that the number is actually gone down. So this is a success that we've had as a country, it's not well known and it's something we can all feel good about."

In order to continue the positive trend, the report says efforts must continue to strengthen Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and the Affordable Care Act.

Slaughter stresses access to health insurance is important for the family as a whole.

"As adults are covered, their children are also covered,” she states. “They do the things that they need to do to make sure that their kids are healthy. But beyond that it's just making sure that we create a system that removes barriers to families.”

The report shows there are still an estimated 115,000 uninsured Ohio children.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH