Access to quality affordable health care helps children prepare to be healthy and successful adults. As a consequence of economic instability, children of color are less likely to have the health insurance coverage that they need. New data released for 2013 showed that 7.6% of kids nationwide do not have health insurance. According to the American Community Survey data, 5.4%, 6.1%, and 11.5% of white, African-American, and Hispanic children are uninsured, respectively. In Nebraska, 25,379 kids (5.5%) under the age of 18 are uninsured. By race/ethnicity, 4.9%, 3.7%, and 6.8% of white, African-American, and Hispanic children were uninsured, numbers that actually show improvement in disparities for Hispanic and African-American children compared to 2012 when uninsured rates for white, African-American, and Hispanic children were 4.2%, 4.7%, and 13.5%, respectively. If CHIP were not reauthorized, the rate of uninsured children would see an increase, and disparities due to race/ethnicity would grow.
CHIP has played an important role in reducing racial disparities in access to health care. In a New York study of children before and during enrollment in CHIP, it was found that statistically significant racial/ethnic disparities were reduced or essentially eliminated in several areas of health care. Results reported improvements for all children regardless of racial or ethnic background in access to care, use of preventative care, unmet needs, parental ratings of care quality, and continuity of visits.
The areas in which statistically significant racial/ethnic disparities were essentially eliminated include access to a usual source of care (USC), unmet needs, and continuity of visits.
- The proportion of children with a USC went from 95%, 86%, and 81% before CHIP to 97%, 95%, and 98% during CHIP for white, black, and Hispanic Children, respectively.
- Unmet needs fell from 31% to 19% for all children with the elimination of statistically significant racial/ethnic disparities.
- The proportion of visits to a USC went from 61%, 54%, and 34% to 87%, 86%, and 92% for white black and Hispanic children, respectively.
Without CHIP, it is likely that both our uninsured rates and disparities in access to health care would be moving in the wrong direction. It is imperative that CHIP is reauthorized in order to ensure that all Nebraskan children, regardless of race or ethnicity, are able to receive the health insurance coverage that they need.