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Arizona Among Top States for Number of Uninsured Latino Kids

A new report shows Arizona has among the highest numbers of Latino children without health insurance in the country. (AndyDean/Adobe Stock)
A new report shows Arizona has among the highest numbers of Latino children without health insurance in the country. (AndyDean/Adobe Stock)
March 20, 2020

PHOENIX, Ariz. - The number of Latino children with health insurance in Arizona and many other states, which had improved steadily over past decades, is dropping.

A new report by UnidosUS and the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families says Arizona had the fifth-highest number of uninsured Latino kids in 2018. Zaida Dedolph, health policy director of the Children's Action Alliance, says the enrollment declines in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program are frustrating.

"The majority, well over half of the kids who are uninsured, would be eligible for CHIP or Medicaid," says Dedolph. "But we are seeing a lot of fear or hesitation to use those programs."

Dedolph says the current coronavirus pandemic makes it all the more important for children to have health coverage.

For information about registering eligible children, Arizona parents can call 855-432-7587 or look online for health-e-arizona plus.

Kelly Whitener, associate professor at the Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy's Center for Children and Families and the study's lead author, says states often put roadblocks in front of moderate-income families seeking to insure their kids.

"For example, some states impose a 90-day waiting period, where a child has to be uninsured for 90 days before they can enroll in CHIP," says Whitener. "States do not have to have that policy, so ending something like that would really help children in that income range."

And Dedolph believes money spent on programs like Medicaid and CHIP is an investment in the state's future.

"We know that kids who have access to health coverage miss fewer days of school," says Dedolph. "They're more likely to graduate from high school and college. And then, they go on as adults to earn more money and to pay more in taxes."

According to the report, Arizona was among five key states - including California, Florida, Georgia and Texas - that accounted for two-thirds of all uninsured Latino children. And from 2016 to 2018, the uninsured rate for these children increased across all income groups.

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.
Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AZ