Health Coverage Continues to Increase for Children in Kentucky

Jeffersontown, KY – Over the last decade the number of uninsured Kentucky children has decreased by 2.9 percentage points. According to the new Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS), roughly 1 in 14, or 6.9 percent of children in Kentucky had no health coverage in 2011 and 2012 down from 9.8 percent in 2001 and 2002. Across the country, 17.8 percent of the overall population under 65 lacked health coverage in 2011-2012. In Kentucky, 17.2 percent of the population under 65 lacked health coverage in 2011-2012, up from 13.9 percent in 2001-2002.

“Kentucky leaders have a long history of supporting efforts to get kids enrolled in health coverage and those efforts have paid off,” said Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates. “The child numbers are good news and there’s more good news to come for children’s health coverage in the coming months. It is also important to focus on increasing parent and adult health coverage as we know parent coverage positively impacts children’s health.”

In the next few months, several health coverage changes will allow for even more children and youth to enroll in health coverage:

  • The Governor’s decisions to expand Medicaid in Kentucky and to create a state-run health insurance marketplace (kynect) are going to help both uninsured parents, and subsequently, their children. Parents who have health coverage are more likely to enroll and keep their children enrolled in health coverage, resulting in more children staying connected to the health system.
  • Foster care youth will be eligible for Medicaid coverage until age 26. This will ensure that this population of young adults, many of who lack stable income or a support network, will have consistent and affordable health coverage.
  • Children will no longer have to go without health insurance for 6 months before they can enroll in the Kentucky Children’s Health Insurance Program (KCHIP) when they move from private to public health coverage. The elimination of this waiting period will help children enroll in KCHIP as soon as their families’ incomes become eligible, thus eliminating gaps in health insurance coverage.
  • Legally residing immigrant children who have been in the United States for less than five years will be eligible to enroll in Medicaid and KCHIP. This will help more children receive health coverage and needed care to keep them healthier overall.

“We are moving in the right direction on increasing health coverage for kids. We celebrate this and also ask Kentucky leaders to continue to use every available policy tool to cover uninsured kids and families; make sure coverage translates into care; and make sure coverage address a full range of health needs – from physical and mental to vision and dental,” Brooks said.

Along with health insurance data, the CPS also includes some income and poverty data. 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 19. The preliminary poverty rate for the total population in Kentucky for 2011-2012 is16.9 percent, down from 17.4 percent in 2009-2010.

For more information or to request an interview, please contact Andrea Bennett at abennett@kyyouth.org or 502-381-1176