The number of uninsured children nationwide increased by about 276,000 children last year, the first significant increase in a decade, according to a new report released by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.
An estimated 3.9 million children were uninsured nationwide in 2017.
Utah saw one of the nation’s greatest increases in the kids’ uninsured rate, with about 71,000 or 7.3 percent of children uninsured in 2017. That’s up 12,000 children, about a 20% increase in the number of uninsured children from 2016.
Three-quarters of the children who lost coverage between 2016 and 2017 live in states that did not yet expand Medicaid. In Utah, where voters recently approved a ballot initiative to expand Medicaid, but where expansion has not yet been implemented, the kids’ uninsured rate increased significantly more than the national rate.
“This report provides more compelling evidence for why it’s so important for Utah to implement our successful ballot initiative, without delays. Medicaid expansion helps to get health insurance to more parents who had no coverage options before, and we know when parents have health coverage kids are more likely to as well,” said Jessie Mandle, Senior Health Policy Analyst at Voices for Utah Children. “We must move forward with expansion now to reverse the negative trends found in this report and help more Utahns access affordable health coverage.”
“The sooner Utah can put Medicaid expansion in place the better it will be for children and families,” said Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University research center and the lead author of the report. “When the whole family has health coverage, children are more likely to get the care they need to succeed.”
Utah is one of only nine states to experience a statistically significant increase in the child uninsured rate, according to the report. This is the eighth annual report on uninsured children published by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, an independent, nonpartisan policy and research center. This is the first report to find that the number of uninsured kids increased in Utah.