Report: Number of Ohio’s Uninsured Children Rises For First Time In Years

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A new report from Georgetown University shows the number of kids in the U.S. without health insurance has increased for the first time in more than a decade.

Ohio is one of several states with a “statistically significant” increase in the number of uninsured children. The report says 21,000 Ohio kids lost coverage in 2017 compared to 2016, totaling 125,000 uninsured children in the state.

“For the first time in many years, the number went in the wrong direction, so this is a red flag,” said Joan Alker, executive director of Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families. “Ohio will have to redouble their efforts to make sure that kids and families get covered.”

Even with the increase in uninsured kids statewide, Ohio is doing better than the national average. Alker says that might be due to Ohio’s status as a state with expanded Medicaid.

“Three-fourths of the kids who lost coverage were living in states that haven’t expanded Medicaid,” said Alker.

Alker suggests several possible reasons for the increase in uninsured kids across the country: more children being removed from Medicaid, less outreach to enroll families in the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, and a temporary lapse in the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

In Ohio, the report notes an increase in the number of school-age kids without insurance. The authors suggest outreach in schools could be a good place to try to reverse this trend.

In a year with a strong economy and a low unemployment rate, Alker says the number of insured children should have increased.

“Even though we had a good economy, that wasn’t able to compensate for this loss of public coverage,” said Alker. “And as a result, we have more uninsured kids.”