Poverty is both a cause and consequence of disability. Children living in poverty have a much greater vulnerability to disease, especially during infancy and early childhood. Impoverished families are less likely to receive adequate health care, or to be able to pay for basic medical needs, and other necessary services. The costs of caring for a child with a disability present further economic hardship for families.
Children with a disability are disproportionately living in poverty. Nearly 1 in 3 children with a disability are living below the Federal Poverty Line compared to 1 in 6 children without a disability.
A child with a disability’s needs often have a significant effect on the habits and lifestyle of their parents. Meeting the child’s needs for a high quality of life can often be very resource intensive, necessitating great time and/or financial investment for the family. 8.9% of parents spend more than 11 hours a week on their child’s health care alone. To have time to care for their children, 17.8% of children with special health care needs had a parent or other family member cut back or stop working and 17.2% had a parent avoid changing jobs in order to maintain current health insurance.
Health insurance coverage reduces financial barriers to accessing preventive care and necessary specialist visits. Findings show that having health insurance works to reduce parental out-of-pocket expenditures. Nearly half of children with complex health care needs had less than $250 in out-of-pocket expenses, and 31% had no medical or health-related expenses. This provides evidence that our health insurance system – particularly Medicaid – is effectively providing the financial support needed to children with disabilities.
Medicaid provides a lifeline for children with disabilities with more than half relying on public insurance to meet the wide range of services and supports their condition requires. Without Medicaid, many children would likely have to health insurance at all. Currently, efforts to cap federal funds for Medicaid are underway. Children with disabilities would be disproportionately impacted by these caps due to their higher usage of medical services, and caps could put their health at risk.
Our recommendation to best support the economic self-sufficiency of families of children with disabilities:
Protect and preserve Medicaid without caps.
Nebraska’s children with disabilities need our help and support! Click here for access to all of the data and findings on Nebraska’s children with disabilities. Click here to request a copy of the 2017 Kids Count in Nebraska Report, or call our office at (402) 597-3100 to schedule a time to pick up a copy in person!