Hispanic children hit hardest with more than 9% uninsured

The U.S. Census Bureau has released data that show the number of U.S. children without health insurance rose for the third year in a row, hitting 5.7% in 2019. Hispanic children registered the greatest loss of insurance by far: the uninsured rate among Hispanic children rose a full percentage point, hitting 9.2%, the highest among any race or ethnic group.

The overall 2019 rate represents a 9.6% increase over 2018 — and an additional 320,000 uninsured children. The uninsured rate for Hispanic children was up 12%. The data show 4.3% of white children do not have health insurance; 4.6% of Black children do not have health insurance. 

In states that did not expand Medicaid for adults, 8.1% of children lack health insurance, nearly double the rate of states that did expand Medicaid. As a region, the South posts the highest rate of uninsured children, at 7.7%. When parents get coverage, public or private, their children are more likely to be covered. 

“These numbers represent the reversal of two decades of progress — and they don’t even include the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic and health coverage fallout,” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus on Children. “Since he took office four years ago, this president has undermined the gains we’ve made on children’s health coverage. He has systematically destabilized Medicaid by discouraging immigrant families from enrolling, allowing work requirements, and cutting outreach. Add to this, jobs lost to COVID-19 — and the health insurance that comes with them — and you can bet the number of uninsured children is currently much, much higher than even these figures show. We cannot sit by and watch our nation’s children go without vaccinations, well-child checks, and other regular medical attention that ensures their healthy growth and development. Especially during a life-threatening pandemic.”

The policies of this Administration have directly contributed to the increase in uninsured children. These policies include:

  • the chilling effect of the Trump Administration’s public charge rule and rhetoric related to immigration, which likely had a large effect on the numbers of uninsured Hispanic children;
  • increased bureaucracy and non-health-related changes to Medicaid enrollment for adults and parents, including work requirements;
  • slashed outreach and consumer assistance efforts,
  • overall increases in red tape at the state level.

In 1997, the census-reported the child uninsurance rate was 15%. The passage of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) that year and its partnership with Medicaid cut the uninsurance rate among children by two-thirds.

First Focus Campaign for Children calls on Congress to: