Kentucky Child Health Insurance Coverage Remained Virtually Unchanged from 2018 to 2019
Impact of Pandemic on Children’s Coverage Unknown Until Next Year
Louisville, KY – New health insurance data released this week by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the percent of Kentucky children under 19 with health coverage was 96.2 percent in 2019 (not statistically different from 2018). When disaggregated by race/ethnicity, the data reveal stark disparities in health coverage for Kentucky’s children of Hispanic/Latino origin: 97.1 percent of Black children, 95.9 percent of non-Hispanic White children, and 90.8 percent of Hispanic children have insurance.
“The health and well-being of children is top of mind for families and leaders alike as the commonwealth and nation continue to address the ongoing and disparate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the middle of the toxicity of election season, ensuring that every Kentucky child is covered is a goal in which all candidates and policymakers can agree,” said Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates. “Having health insurance means children are able to access critical preventive and ongoing care needed to stay healthy. It means that kids can visit the doctor, dentist, and mental health professionals to support their healthy development.”
The one-year estimates from the American Community Survey (ACS) show that health insurance coverage for those under age 65, which includes both children and adults, increased from 83.4 percent in 2013 (the year prior to full implementation of the expansion of Kentucky’s Medicaid program) to 92.3 percent in 2019. The new data also show that Kentucky’s health insurance coverage rate for those under age 65 is better than the national rate of 89.2 percent.
Additionally, data collected between mid-July through the end of August as part of the Household Pulse Survey show that 93 percent of Kentucky adults in households with minor children are insured.
“Research explicitly tells us that there is a link between parent’s coverage and their children’s coverage, which means as more parents receive coverage and care, so will their kids. Governor Beshear’s ongoing Medicaid and KCHIP enrollment efforts will not only benefit the enrollee, but also their family and the commonwealth because healthier Kentuckians means a healthier workforce. And kids and the state budget are relying on Congress to support pandemic recovery efforts and the well-being of families, including budget commitments that support the state Medicaid program,” said Dr. Brooks.
As the commonwealth works to address disparities in health insurance rates, efforts must be especially focused on closing the gap in coverage for children of Hispanic/Latino origin. Also, as Congress debates the next COVID-19 relief package, federal leaders must consider an investment increase in the Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) – rates used to determine the federal matching funds allocated annually to states – to support Kentucky’s Medicaid program, ensure families have access to vital heath care services, and bring relief to the state budget.
“Despite Kentucky’s impressive rate of children with health coverage, there are still approximately 45,000 youth who need to be connected with and enrolled in health insurance. Making sure kids are covered and have access to care is everyone’s business. And we can all agree that every child in Kentucky deserves to be healthy and hopeful now and into the future,” said Dr. Brooks.
About Kentucky Youth Advocates
Kentucky Youth Advocates believes all children deserve to be safe, healthy, and secure. As THE independent voice for Kentucky’s children, we work to ensure policymakers create investments and policies that are good for children. Learn more at www.kyyouth.org.