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Number of SD Kids Without Health Insurance Soars

Nearly 4 million U.S. children joined the rolls of those without health insurance in 2017, including 3,000 in South Dakota. (sdwic.org)
Nearly 4 million U.S. children joined the rolls of those without health insurance in 2017, including 3,000 in South Dakota. (sdwic.org)
December 3, 2018

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – For the first time in a decade, the number of children without health coverage in the U.S. has gone up.

According to a new report from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, the number of uninsured children rose by more than 275,000 in 2017, and South Dakota's percentage increase was one of the largest in the nation.

The state's smaller population means the numbers are not as large as some states, but 3,000 children lost health insurance here in just one year.

According to Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center, the state is one of nine that saw dramatic increases in the rate of uninsured children.

"We found three-quarters of the children who lost coverage between 2016 and 2017 live in states that have not expanded Medicaid to their parents and other adults," she states.

South Dakota is one of a handful of states that has not expanded Medicaid, a fact that may be contributing to the inability of parents to provide health insurance for their children.

Voters in neighboring Nebraska along with Utah and Idaho – also traditionally conservative states – approved expansion in last month's midterm election.

Alker has prepared the report for eight years, and says it's the first time progress has been reversed for the number of children without health insurance.

Updated data won't be available again until the fall of 2019, but she says there's real concern that uninsured rates for kids will continue to decline.

"Barring new and serious efforts to get back on track, there's every reason to believe this decline in the number of kids having health insurance may get worse in 2018," she states.

The percentage of children without health insurance in South Dakota climbed from 4.7 percent in 2016 to 6.2 percent in 2017.

The nationwide number of children without health insurance coverage in 2017 was 4 million.

Roz Brown, Public News Service - SD