Health Coverage Continues to Increase for Children in Kentucky

The political atmosphere in Washington DC and Kentucky has been nothing but toxic since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was enacted in March 2010. If you watch, listen to, or read the news, you know that to be true. But, do you know what kind of impact it has made? What has it done for families, and children?

Yesterday, the Census Bureau released data that shows encouraging trends in healthcare. Over the last decade the number of uninsured Kentucky children decreased by 2.9 percentage points. According to the Current Population Survey (CPS), 5.8 percent of children in Kentucky had no health coverage in 2010-2011, which was down from 8.7 percent in 2000-2001. Also in Kentucky, 14.6 percent of the population under 65 lacked health coverage in 2010-2011, down from 15.8 percent in 2008-2009. These numbers show a trend of broader health coverage for Kentuckians. We’re moving in the right direction!

It’s possible we have the ACA to thank for these positive results. The ACA stipulated that children with preexisting conditions could not be denied health coverage; lifetime coverage limits were banned so that children who are sick at a young age can’t be denied access to care later in life; and, children transitioning from youth to adulthood can stay on their parents insurance until age 26. The increase seen in children with insurance could be a result of these positive provisions for kids, and we can expect to see an even lower number of uninsured among children and adults as more provisions go into effect in the coming years.

However, in the midst of these positive provisions for kids’ health due to the Affordable Care Act, the transition to Medicaid managed care has been far from positive here in the Commonwealth. Since it began in November 2011, we’ve heard from many parents experiencing confusion about which plan their children are assigned to, parents unable to find a provider that takes their plan close to their homes, and lawsuits between health care providers, the managed care companies and the state related to network adequacy, delayed payments, and the cost of providing care to the patients. These problems cause vast concern for us as changes are coming to the Passport region in the near future. While Passport has been the sole managed care company for several years in the 16 counties around Louisville, we know there will be at least two companies in this region  starting January 1, 2013 which may or may not include Passport Health Plan.  This announcement should be made in the next couple of weeks. During this transition, we want to ensure that the issues that have affected the transition in the rest of the state do not occur in the current Passport region. We hope the state and companies have learned lessons that prevent the same problems from occurring.

Along with health insurance data, the CPS also includes some income and poverty data. The preliminary poverty rate for the total population in Kentucky for 2010-2011 is 16.8 percent, up from 12.6 percent in 2000-2001. Because the sample size for state-level poverty and income data is not large enough to provide reliable state sampling, the Census Bureau generally favors the American Community Survey (ACS) data for analysis of state poverty and income, which will be released on September 20. We at KYA are anxiously awaiting the results and are hoping for more positive outcomes to celebrate.