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Health care access eludes kids of color

Part of advocating for Nebraska’s children means figuring out which kids are most likely to be crying out, but are least likely to be heard. Data helps us do this. When we look at numbers in areas like health insurance coverage, we can see that those figures can look really different across groups of children.

In other words, we can see that not all Nebraska kids receive equitable access to the services that keep them healthy, happy and growing strong. In the case of health insurance coverage, an estimated 47,000 Nebraska kids went without in 2010 (1). That’s a lot of kids who probably aren’t getting to the doctor when they need to.

When looking at sheer numbers, most of the uninsured kids in our state are White. Slicing the data by race and ethnicity, however, reveals that White children are more likely to be insured than are their peers of color.  In 2009, for which we have the most recent insurance data available for kids by race and ethnicity, we saw that kids who are American Indian or Hispanic fared the worst. Here are the percentages of kids who didn’t have health insurance (2):

  • American Indian: 19.0%
  • Asian: 6.3%
  • Black or African American: 6.7%
  • Hispanic: 12.9%
  • White: 5.6%

Bottom line: Whatever a child’s race or ethnicity, health insurance helps pave the way to quality and affordable health care. When this access narrows – as it does, disproportionately, for kids of color – children’s ability to participate equitably with their peers narrows too. Every child should have the right to be as healthy as possible. As advocates, we must keep paying attention to all kids… and especially those whose voices are the least likely to be heard.

1. U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, 2010 Annual Social and Economic Supplement, Table HI05.
2. U.S. Census Bureau, 2009 American Community Survey 1-Year-Estimates, Tables B27001A-I.

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