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Census Uninsured Data Underscores CHIP Hearing’s Importance
Ed Walz (Former Staff)Health Poverty & Family Economics
Washington – The United States Census Bureau today released 2013 data on the number and percent of people in America who did not have health insurance, reporting that 7.6 percent of children were uninsured last year. That rate is down from nearly 9 percent in 2012, continuing a trend of progress on covering uninsured children.
This release comes on the same day as a U.S. Senate Finance Committee hearing on the future of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which is credited with a significant role in reducing uninsurance among children. First Focus president Bruce Lesley is the lead witness at that hearing.
The Census-reported child uninsurance rate was 15 percent in 1997, the year a Republican-controlled Congress and a Democratic president enacted CHIP. In partnership with Medicaid, CHIP has cut the uninsurance rate among children by nearly half.
CHIP is a federal-state partnership, giving state leaders the flexibility to design coverage initiatives that meet the needs of their states’ children and families. And CHIP is a true private-public partnership, often covering uninsured children through the same private insurance carriers that participate in employer-sponsored plans.
A July analysis by the widely-regarded actuarial firm Wakely Consulting Group found that Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance exchange “marketplaces” have fewer child-specific benefits and dramatically higher out-of-pocket costs than CHIP plans. While CHIP plans have average out-of-pocket costs of $97 for an average family with a $50,000 annual income, the same family would face average out-of-pocket costs of $926 under marketplace plans.
A First Focus analysis released last week shows that CHIP is even more important for children in rural areas than their urban counterparts. That report found that rural children are more than 20 percent more likely to get their health care through CHIP or Medicaid than children in urban areas.
Reacting to today’s Census Bureau data, First Focus released the following statement from First Focus President Bruce Lesley:
“Today’s Census Bureau report confirms what children’s advocates have known for years – than CHIP is a bipartisan health care plan that works for kids. But that success story can only continue if states have confidence that Congress will maintain its investment in CHIP. That’s what makes this afternoon’s Senate Finance Committee hearing on CHIP so important. The committee, and especially Senators Jay Rockefeller and Pat Roberts, deserve our thanks for putting this important children’s issue on Congress’ agenda. We urge Congress to extend CHIP funding this year.”
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First Focus is a bipartisan advocacy organization dedicated to making children and families the priority in federal policy and budget decisions. For more information, visit www.firstfocus.net.