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Health Care for Children

Children are one third of our population and all of our future.
~Select Panel for the Promotion of Child Health, 1981

The Problem

The United States is one of the wealthiest nations in the world, yet nearly 9 million children (that is one out of every eight children) are uninsured and millions more are underinsured because of rising medical costs. The lack of health insurance reduces the likelihood that a child will receive preventive health care and medical treatment for illnesses, which can affect the development and health of the child not only during childhood but for a lifetime.

• Uninsured children are less likely to receive preventive health care than insured children, including wellness check-ups, immunizations, and dental care.

The Benefits

Health insurance can make a lasting difference in childrens lives. Health insurance provides both physical and developmental benefits to children by creating access to preventive health care and basic health care services. The availability of preventive health care and timely medical care can help keep bigger health problems from developing.

Health Care

• The investment into childrens health can bring numerous benefits. Benefits of healthy children include improved development and health outcomes, improved school performance, and long-term savings in health care costs.

Did you know . . .

  • that check-ups, shots, and regular dental care are needed to help keep children healthy?
  • that approximately 20 percent of children do not receive recommended immunizations?
  • that children with health insurance are more likely to be healthy than children without health insurance?
  • that children with health insurance miss less days from school?
  • that healthy children do better in school?
  • that children without health insurance are less likely to be treated for ear infections which can lead to lifelong hearing loss?
  • that children with asthma who receive basic medical care experience far less asthma-related attacks and emergency room visits?

Medicaid and SCHIP Coverage

Medicaid and SCHIP, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, are the nation’s major public health coverage programs for low-income people in the United States.

• Medicaid is jointly funded by federal and state governments to provide health care for qualifying low-income individuals.

• SCHIP, which may be called different names in different states, is available to children whose parents do not qualify for Medicaid.

Overall, Medicaid provides coverage for about 28 million poor and near-poor children and SCHIP provides health coverage for an additional 6 million low-income children. Together they provide health coverage for 25% of all children in the US and 50% of all low-income children in the US.

• Many more children qualify for Medicaid or SCHIP coverage but are not currently enrolled in either program. In many cases, parents are unaware that their children may qualify for these programs.

As studies show that health insurance provides numerous benefits for children, it is worth the effort to expand and fund the Medicaid and SCHIP programs in order to provide coverage to all uninsured children. Potentially, Medicaid and SCHIP can greatly reduce the number of uninsured children and improve the lives of millions of low-income children.

What Can We Do Now?

It is important to reach out to families without health insurance and let them know about the Medicaid and SCHIP programs so that their children can get the health care they need. Many families are either unaware of these programs that are currently available to them or need assistance with enrollment and how to access the available health services once enrolled.

Also, if you support universal health care coverage for children, it is important to contact your representatives in government and let them know that you support the continued funding and expansion of health care coverage for all children in America.

• In 2007, Congress passed two proposals to reauthorize and expand SCHIP over the next five years, but both were vetoed by President Bush and Congress did not have enough votes to override the veto. At the end of 2007, the SCHIP program was extended, but only through March 2009 at current levels.

We cannot afford to let this program expire and we must do more to expand the program to insure all children. The wealthiest nation in the world should make it a priority to ensure health care coverage for all children.