When children have health care coverage, they are able to get the preventive care they need to stay healthy and show up for school ready to learn. It also means their families can afford to take them to the doctor when they are sick, so they don’t wind up having to rely on more expensive hospital care if they get sicker.

A new report by Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families and Kentucky Youth Advocates commends Kentucky for moving up from 28th to 15th place in state rankings on children’s health care coverage. Children in both urban and rural areas saw improvements in their uninsured rates.

The report compared 2013 and 2014 U.S. Census American Community Survey data. It estimated that the number of uninsured children in Kentucky declined from about 60,000 in 2013 to about 43,000 in 2014; that’s more than 16,000 reasons why child health coverage matters. While we are glad to see the improvements over one year, we know this positive trend for children’s health coverage dates back to 2009 when Kentucky launched outreach and enrollment efforts to get eligible kids insured. In addition, covering more parents through kynect since 2014 has positively impacted children’s health coverage rates as well, as research shows that when parents are covered, children are more likely to be covered.

The report also notes that improvements to children’s coverage have been shown to provide a strong return on government investment. Research shows that children with Medicaid coverage were less likely to drop out of high school and more likely to graduate from college. They also had better health and economic success as adults, making them less reliant on safety net programs.

Our state did not achieve this success overnight, and we need to continue to build on this success in the future to ensure kids remain covered.

Families who would like to enroll their children in health care coverage should call 1-855-459-6328 or visit kynect.ky.gov. Families can enroll their children in Medicaid or KCHIP at anytime. Open enrollment for private health plans begins November 1.

The full report can be found here.