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Report: More Children Insured, But Florida Still Lags Nationally

Health Policy Institute/Georgetown University
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

According to a new report, more children than ever before have health insurance.

Florida joins 40 other states that insured more children between 2013 and 2015.

The reports says that the positive trend in children’s health insurance coverage started with the expansion of Medicaid to more children, and the creation of the Children’s Health Insurance Program -- known as CHIP.

The report also says the Affordable Care Act enhanced these programs , which insured even more children.

"More parents are aware of coverage options as a result of the Affordable Care Act,” said Joan Alker, the lead author of the report from Georgetown University.

“Florida has pretty robust enrollment in the marketplace. When parents come in to enroll for those tax credits and marketplace coverage, they learn that their children are eligible for Medicaid coverage and the CHIP program."

Alker says most children are reliable for one of those two programs -- some parents just don't know it.

"Florida still has a lot of work to do,” Alker said. “6.9 percent is quite above the national rate of 4.8 percent of uninsured children and Florida has the highest rate of uninsured children in the south, except for Texas."

The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Florida is home to about 445,000 uninsured children.

“We’re getting closer and closer to reaching the goal of ensuring every child has access to health care,” said Mark Pafford, CEO of consumer advocacy group Florida CHAIN, in a news release. “By investing in the health and well-being of Florida’s children today we are investing in the future.”

The share of children with health insurance coverage improved to a historic high rate of 95.2 percent in 2015. Between 2013 and 2015, about 1.7 million children gained coverage. Employer-sponsored coverage for children remained stable from 2013 to 2015.

Recent analysis showed 73 percent of uninsured children are eligible for public coverage, primarily Medicaid or CHIP,  but are not currently enrolled. Undocumented immigrant children constitute only 5 percent of the remaining uninsured children.

Just over half of the remaining uninsured children reside in seven states: Texas, California, Florida, Georgia, Arizona, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Texas has the largest number of uninsured children by far, with almost one in five uninsured children living there in 2015.

A disproportionate number of uninsured children live in the South, which is home to 38.3 percent of all children, but 49.5 percent of uninsured children.

Daylina Miller is a multimedia reporter for WUSF and Health News Florida, covering health in the Tampa Bay area and across the state.