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More children losing health insurance

It’s slightly nerdy to be saying this, but here in the Voices for Children research department, we’ve been looking forward to today’s release of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey (CPS) for awhile now.

Today isn’t just a great excuse to make some charts and graphs, though. It’s also a day that we begin to get a glimpse at what happened – statistically speaking – to our country last year. CPS provides a view of national poverty, income, and health insurance coverage.

What we want to look at right now, however, is how and if kids in our state are covered by health insurance. Research tells us that health insurance for kids is important, and the data released today is not good news.

In the past decade, we’ve seen a general trend in kids losing employer-sponsored health care and moving either to Medicaid or losing health care altogether. Here are some numbers to chew on:

  • Employer-sponsored coverage dropped over the years, from about 69% of kids utilizing this benefit in 1999 to 60% in 2010.

So where’d they get coverage?

  • Many have been protected by Medicaid. During that same time frame, the percentage of children insured by Medicaid rose from 16% to 26%.
  • And for others, health coverage just out-and-out disappeared. In 2000, about 24,000 (6%) children were uninsured in Nebraska. That number had nearly doubled by the 2010. About 47,000 (10%) were uninsured last year.

Just think about that a moment. One out of ten kids in Nebraska doesn’t have insurance. So what happens when little Bart breaks his arm? Or when Lisa gets an ear infection? In such cases, the emergency room might be the family’s last resort – and the community’s most expensive bill to cover.

Keeping kids covered by insurance not only keeps them safe and healthy and in school, it also makes smart economic sense for the rest of us. Here at Voices for Children in Nebraska, we look forward to the successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act and ensuring access to care for every Nebraska kid.

Next week, the Census Bureau will release more poverty data that will let us take a closer look at how Nebraska children are faring financially. Stay tuned.

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