Dive Brief:

  • The number and percentage of uninsured children in the U.S. increased for the first time in more than a decade in 2017, according to a new Georgetown University Health Policy Institute report.
  • About 276,000 fewer children had health insurance in 2017 compared to the previous year. The percent of uninsured children increased from 4.7% to 5% over the year.
  • Most of the children who lost health coverage live in states that didn’t expand Medicaid, including Texas. The Lone Star State has the largest percentage of uninsured children.

Dive Insight:

Policymakers generally agree that children need health insurance. Covered children have better access to care, including preventive services and wellness checkups. Having insurance can lead to better health status and outcomes and lower overall health costs.

A decade ago, 7.6 million American children were uninsured. Since then, the number has dropped, thanks in large part to the Affordable Care Act. The ACA allowed states to expand Medicaid, disallowed payers from using someone’s preexisting conditions to deny coverage or jack up rates, implemented an individual mandate and created exchanges that made it easier for people to find individual and nongroup plans.

All of those actions helped improve the number of insured. Medicaid expansion was the major driver. More than 15 million additional Americans are covered through expansion.

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