The uninsured rate among Utah children has dropped from 9.5% to 7.2% since major provisions of the Affordable Care Act went into effect, according to a new report by Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families.
The newest data show that there are 65,000 uninsured kids in Utah. That is 20,000 fewer uninsured children than in 2013, when 85,000 Utah children were uninsured.
“Utah was among the 41 states making progress in reducing its uninsured rate for children but there are still quite a few uninsured children living in Utah and more work is needed to reach them,” said Joan Alker, Executive Director of Georgetown CCF.
In spite of this improvement, Utah continues to lag behind the national uninsured rate for children of 4.8%, down from 7.1% in 2013. Upon implementing the ACA in 2014 and 2015, the nation experienced its largest two-year decline in child uninsured rates on record. Utah is flanked on the east and the west by the states with the most improved child health insurance rates: Nevada and Colorado. Both states fully expanded Medicaid under the ACA.
“The new data demonstrate that the Affordable Care Act is working for Utah families,” said April Young Bennett, Communications Director at Voices for Utah Children. “But it would work even better if Utah expanded Medicaid. As other states have expanded Medicaid to more low-income parents, they have seen improved enrollment of children as well.”
Another way Utah could improve children’s health coverage rates is by allowing children to maintain Medicaid coverage for a full year from the time they enroll, even if their families experience a temporary change in income. Continuous eligibility is already available to Utah children enrolled in CHIP, but not to children enrolled in Medicaid.
“Without continuous eligibility, children can lose their coverage when parents find temporary or seasonal work,” said Bennett.
The new data also answer questions about how the ACA would affect employer-sponsored health insurance coverage. Across the nation, child enrollment in employer-sponsored health plans remained stable while child enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP increased and fewer children remained uninsured. Under the ACA, employer-sponsored health coverage continues to be the largest single source of health coverage for children.
To learn about free or low-cost coverage through Medicaid or CHIP call 211 or Insure Kids Now at 1-877-KIDS-NOW (1-877-543-7669).
For more information, see the complete report: http://ccf.georgetown.edu/