This afternoon, Voices for Children in Nebraska submitted a letter in support of LB 472, the Medicaid Redesign Act. Although children are already eligible for Medicaid at a higher income level, this bill would allow uninsured parents with incomes between about 60% and 133% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) access to health insurance.
There are multiple ways in which children benefit from parental health insurance. The first is that extending Medicaid coverage to parents has a spillover benefit for children. In 2013, despite the CHIP’s success in insuring children statewide, about 17,000 children eligible for public health insurance remained uninsured. Several studies have shown a correlation between parental and child insurance rates. One study found that nearly 75% of uninsured children have at least one uninsured parent and that states that expand Medicaid to parents show uninsured rates among low-income children that are over 40% lower.
Parents are also more likely to have better knowledge of the health care system and better utilize care on behalf of their children if they themselves are insured. One study found that providing Medicaid to uninsured children results in a 14% increase in well-child visits, while extending coverage to both children and parents increases well-child visits by 24%. The opposite was also true. Having an uninsured parent reduces the probability of a well-child visit by 3.5% among publicly insured children and by 11.8% among privately insured children.
Finally, children benefit from having healthy parents who are better able to care for their needs. Adults who lack health insurance are more likely to delay or fail to seek treatment for physical or mental health issues. These issues can ultimately impact a parent’s ability to adequately care for their children. For these reasons, we support the efforts in LB 472 to expand health insurance to more low income parents.