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Michigan Mirrors Nation in Kids Losing Health Coverage

Without health insurance, children are less likely to have access to routine medical care. (Adobe Stock)
Without health insurance, children are less likely to have access to routine medical care. (Adobe Stock)
November 1, 2019

LANSING, Mich. – Over the past two years, the percentage of children without health care insurance has risen, in Michigan and nationwide.

Researchers from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families found that 3.4% of Michigan's children, or about 79,000 children, have no health insurance.

That's a nearly 10% increase that the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Michigan Chapter, Dr. Sharon Swindell, says is troubling.

"It's a disturbing trend when you look at it in contrast to an improving economy that the uninsurance rates are climbing again, after really good progress, after introduction of the Affordable Care Act," she states.

The report says the number of uninsured children increased by 400,000 nationwide between 2016 and 2018. It blames the Trump administration's efforts to dismantle Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, as well as President Donald Trump's anti-immigrant policies, which have led many parents to remove their children from government programs.

Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown Center, says the loss of coverage hurt Latino children the most, but several other groups also saw decreases in coverage.

"White children also had a significant loss of coverage,” she points out. “Young children, under age 6 – and that's really troubling.

“And we're also seeing families who are just right above the poverty lines, with incomes around $30,000 a year, those working-poor families, losing coverage."

Without health insurance, Swindell explains children are less likely to access routine medical care, and says that can create ripple effects through a child's life – especially for those with chronic conditions, like asthma.

"Disruption of care really leads to increased symptoms, sometimes emergency room evaluations, sometimes hospitalization,” she points out. “But often just loss of optimal functioning, ability to concentrate at school, because you might not feel quite as good."

Nationwide, the rate of uninsured children rose from 4.7% in 2016 to 5.2% in 2018. That's a total of 4 million children uninsured.

Disclosure: Georgetown University Center for Children & Families contributes to our fund for reporting on Children's Issues, Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service - MI