New health insurance data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau revealed that health insurance coverage rates for both children and adults increased in Kentucky from 2013 to 2014. The one-year estimates from the American Community Survey revealed that 95.7 percent of Kentucky children under 18 had health insurance in 2014, compared with 94.1 percent in 2013. This is an estimated increase of 16,000 children. In addition, coverage for those under age 65, which includes both children and adults, increased from 83.4 percent in 2013 to 90.2 percent in 2014. Kentucky’s estimates for health insurance coverage of people under age 65 for 2014 are also better than the national estimate of 86.5 percent.
In the world of 2015, it is easy for all the politics around health care to obscure certain realities. The first reality is that Kentucky’s health care system currently covers more kids with health coverage which can increase access to health services. That is clearly good news for kids as health status is a driver of so many other aspects of childhood, such as academic achievement in school. The second reality is that increased coverage for Kentucky kids is a strong return on investment for the state. When kids are covered, they are more likely to receive preventive care that keeps children healthier overall, which saves dollars on costly medical care due to unmet health needs. Finally, the impact of increased numbers of adult Kentuckians being covered by health insurance is also positive for kids. When moms and dads are covered, children are more likely to be covered as well.
We should welcome and encourage legitimate debate on many aspects of health care. But, when it comes to kids, there can be no legitimate debate. Kids are better off today because of changes in the health care system and that is a win that calls for bipartisan applause.