Even uninsured kids who received medical care did not always see a doctor when they needed one. Uninsured children were 10 times more likely not to receive the medical care they needed, compared to children who have insurance (6.2 percent vs. 0.65 percent).
These and other findings of Going Without: America's Uninsured Children were released today by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) during a kick-off event for the Covering Kids & Families Back-to-School Campaign, a nationwide effort to enroll eligible children in public coverage programs during the back-to-school season. Parents of uninsured children can call toll-free 1(877) KIDS-NOW to find out if their children are eligible for low-cost or free health care coverage.
"Everyone in America needs access to affordable health coverage, but when the health of a child is at stake, the need is all the more urgent. That is why political leaders, musical artists and athletes are coming together to encourage enrollment in available programs," said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "Back-to-school season is an ideal time to make sure that children have the health coverage they need, because it's easier to do well in school when you feel well. No child in America should have to go without a doctor's visit or skip needed care, and no parent should have to make that decision. Low-cost of free coverage is available for seven out of 10 uninsured children."
U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.S. participated in today's event, alongside D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams. In addition, sports heroes from Major League Soccer – D.C. United's Freddy Adu and Jaime Moreno – joined Grammy-winning gospel duo Mary Mary, salsa legend Willie Colón and hip-hop artist Benny Cassette in reaching out to parents.
Covering Kids & Families will reach millions of families nationwide during August and September by:
- Organizing thousands of activities, including health and enrollment fairs, in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to encourage parents to seek information about enrolling their eligible children in Medicaid or the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP);
- Encouraging nearly 200 national organizations – which include public health, health care, educational, social service and faith-based organizations – to distribute information through their Web sites, listserv announcements, newsletters, conferences and mailings;
- Forming partnerships with national corporations such as Capital One, Giant Foods LLC, the Kroger Family of Pharmacies and Aramark, among others, to promote messages about the availability of low-cost and free health care coverage on their products and in their consumer communications.
Thousands of activities are planned nationwide to enroll eligible children in Medicaid or SCHIP. Although eligibility varies, programs exist in every state and the District of Columbia. The programs cover doctor visits, hospitalizations, prescriptions and more. A family of four earning up to $38,000 a year – or more – may qualify.
"State insurance programs designed to cover children have provided low-cost or free health care coverage to millions of children in recent years, but there are millions more who are still eligible," said Sarah Shuptrine, national program director of Covering Kids & Families. "Many people still do not know about the availability of these programs, and parents in working families might assume their children would not qualify. That is why we are all committed to publicizing 1 (877) KIDS-NOW to let parents know that help is available."
The research released today shows that the number of uninsured children in America has decreased by nearly 2 million since 1998, largely due to enrollment in government programs. During this same period, 1.2 million more parents became uninsured. Despite the decrease in overall numbers of uninsured children, however, more than 7 out of every 10 uninsured children are eligible for low-cost or free health care coverage through Medicaid or SCHIP, but are not enrolled. Because most eligible children are from working families, their parents may not realize their children could be eligible for this coverage.
Today's research was prepared by analysts at the State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC), located at the University of Minnesota, and the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C. Additional findings include:
- The problem exists in nearly every state. Although the data show high levels of uninsured children not receiving care across the nation, states with the highest levels of uninsured children not receiving any care were Arizona (47.1 percent); Nevada (43.4 percent); Oklahoma (41.7 percent); Texas (40.5 percent); New Mexico (40.3 percent); Georgia 37.8 percent); California (37.4 percent); and Louisiana (37.1 percent).
- Uninsured Hispanic and African-American children are less likely to receive medical care than uninsured white children. Nationally, more than 40 percent (41.4%) of uninsured Hispanic children went without any medical care during the year, compared to just a quarter (25.7%) of uninsured white children. And uninsured African American children (14.7%) are less likely to receive all needed medical care than uninsured white children (3.9%).
- Uninsured kids often do not have a regular doctor or nurse. Nine out of ten (85.9 percent) who have health coverage reported that they have someone they think of as his/her personal doctor or nurse, compared with just more than half of children (56.8 percent) who are not insured.
The report analyzes data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics (2003 National Survey of Children's Health, 2003 National Health Interview Survey) and U.S. Census Bureau (2003-2004 Current Population Survey).
Organizers are focusing this year's campaign on reaching African-American and Hispanic parents whose children are uninsured, but may be eligible for low-cost or free health care coverage. To help reach these families, the campaign has formed a special partnership with Major League Soccer (MLS). MLS teams throughout the nation will declare a "Children's Health Care Coverage Day" at a home game, promote the 1(877) KIDS-NOW toll-free number on Jumbotrons and in game programs, and distribute other materials during soccer matches.
To view the state-by-state research report, locate Covering Kids & Families activities, or download materials in English or Spanish, log on to www.coveringkidsandfamilies.org.
Covering Kids & Families operates through statewide and local projects in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and is a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 30 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. Helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need—the Foundation expects to make a difference in our lifetime. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org.
The Southern Institute on Children and Families, based in Columbia, S.C., serves as the National Program Office for the Covering Kids & Families Initiative. For more information on the Southern Institute on Children and Families visit www.thesoutherninstitute.org.
The University of Minnesota's State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC) helps states monitor rates of health insurance coverage and to understand factors associated with uninsurance. SHADAC provides targeted policy analysis and technical assistance to states that are conducting their own health insurance surveys and/or using data from national surveys. Information can be located at www.shadac.umn.edu.
The Urban Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy research and educational organization that examines the social, economic, and governance problems facing the nation. The Urban Institute's Health Policy Center studies how the dynamics of the health care market affect health care financing, costs and access. For more information, visit www.urban.org.