Health Coverage Continues to Increase for Children in Kentucky

Children's HealthOver 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. This is good news for Kentucky children. Kentucky leaders have a long history of supporting efforts to get kids health coverage and those efforts have paid off.

Unfortunately, numbers are not as good for the total population under 65. In Kentucky, 17.2 percent of the population under 65 lacked health coverage in 2011-2012, up from 13.9 percent in 2001-2002. Because we know that parent coverage positively impacts children’s health, it is important to focus on increasing parent and adult health coverage, which will be happening in the coming months

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

  • The Governor’s decisions to expand Medicaid in Kentucky to cover low-income adults 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.

This is an exciting time for Kentucky kids and families in the area of health. As we see how these health coverage changes roll out, and gear up for the 2014 session, we 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.