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Calif. Cuts Number of Uninsured Children by More than Half

California cut its number of uninsured children by 55 percent from 2013 to 2015. (Carolina Quezada/NACHC)
California cut its number of uninsured children by 55 percent from 2013 to 2015. (Carolina Quezada/NACHC)
October 28, 2016

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California has made the biggest recent gains in the country in getting children signed up for health insurance, according to a new report. Researchers at the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families found the Golden State cut its number of uninsured children by 55 percent between 2013 and 2015, just after the Affordable Care Act went into effect.

Mayra Alvarez, president of the Children's Partnership credits the state's decision to fully implement the ACA, expanding Medi-Cal and creating a state marketplace, Covered California, that makes it easy to sign up.

"As a one-stop shopping center, families are notified about what programs for which they or their children may qualify, both private plans, and public programs like Medi-Cal, making the process easier, but also helping secure coverage for more children that are eligible," she explained.

The report said 97 percent of California's nine million children now have health insurance, which beats the national average by almost two percentage points. California's numbers will look even better by next year, because the state began allowing undocumented children to enroll in Medi-Cal this past May. So far, parents have signed up more than 135,000 children.

Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, said polls show most Americans are not aware of the success of these programs.

"About half of Americans thought the number of uninsured children was actually increasing," she said. "Only 28 percent were aware that the number has 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."

The report said California still has more than 300,000 uninsured children, which is the second largest number in the country, behind Texas.

Suzanne Potter/Shaine Smith, Public News Service - CA