New health insurance data released by the U.S. Census Bureau revealed that the percent of people with health insurance (of all ages) in Kentucky increased from 85.7 percent in 2013 to 94.9 percent in 2016. Kentucky now has the 8th highest rate among states of people with health insurance. The one-year estimates from the American Community Survey revealed that 96.7 percent of Kentucky children under 19 had health insurance in 2016, compared with 93.6 percent in 2013. This is an estimated increase of 37,000 children.
The newly released data highlights Kentucky’s continuing progress in health coverage for children and families. We know that having health insurance means children are able to visit the doctor or the dentist to get the care they need to stay healthy. We also know that there is a lot on the line for child and family health in the coming months at the state and federal levels.
The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is up for a funding extension and must be approved by Congress by September 30th. Kentucky’s version of the program, KCHIP, helps lower the number of uninsured children by providing affordable health insurance for children with working parents who are struggling to make ends meet.
CHIP is a strong example of a bipartisan policy that has been effective at delivering quality health insurance to children in the way states see fit. It receives support across the aisle because it works. Kentucky kids are counting on Congress to act swiftly and extend CHIP funding to protect children’s access to health care.
In addition, the new data shows that health insurance coverage for those under age 65, which includes both children and adults, increased from 83.4 percent in 2013 to 94 percent in 2016. Kentucky’s 2016 estimate for health insurance coverage of people under age 65 is also better than the national estimate of 90 percent.
Many low-income working parents in Kentucky received health insurance through expanded Medicaid in 2014. The Bevin Administration’s proposed changes to the Medicaid program through the 1115 Waiver could create very real barriers to coverage for many receiving coverage through expansion—this we know. We also know that kids are more likely to have health insurance when their parents do, and the barriers to coverage of the proposed 1115 Waiver will consequently impact the health of Kentucky’s children.
Critical health policy decisions for children are imminent at the federal, state, and local levels. That is why the Bevin Administration must ensure the 1115 Medicaid Waiver implementation is pro-family. That is also why we need Majority Leader McConnell, and every member of Kentucky’s Congressional delegation, to ensure that CHIP funding is not only extended but deepened.
Kentucky families are counting on our elected leaders in Frankfort and Washington to keep our progress moving when it comes to kids and health.