Unable to fend for themselves, vote, or make financial decisions, they are a part of the population that lacks a voice. Nationally, the number of children who lack health insurance in the U.S. increased by more than 400,000 people, bringing the total number of uninsured children in America to over 4 million, with 15 states showing significant coverage losses. Chief among them is Idaho.
“I think there’s an opportunity for a bi-partisan effort to mediate this decline in child coverage,” said Liz Woodruff, the assistant director of Idaho Voices for Children. “We think more effort must be made so people can understand the changes [in policy] and the impact it has on children.”
In Idaho between 2017 and 2018, approximately 7,200 children lost health coverage, rising to 5.2%. According to the Idaho report, “while some have argued that the strong economy led children to move to employer sponsored insurance, private coverage rates in Idaho remained consistent while public coverage decreased last year.”
Changes in administrative policy made it more difficult for people to manually renew their healthcare. According to Woodruff the change in policy correlates with the decline in coverage. All of this information has been extrapolated from the Georgetown study, and Boise’s population is large enough to provide information about children’s coverage taken from the U.S. Census Bureau.
“What I do know is that people used to be able to renew automatically and now they have to prove the information is accurate. It’s a change, and many people may not have realized,” said Woodruff. “Idaho used to have the largest automatic renewal in the nation, the majority of these kids are experiencing high levels of poverty, they aren’t getting coverage. We’d like the renewal process to be less complicated.”
With Medicaid expansion approved in Idaho, many more families with children will have the opportunity to acquire coverage. Enrollment started Nov. 1 and coverage is set to begin Wednesday, Jan. 1. For more information on how to enroll visit Medicaidexpansion.idaho.gov.