Rate of uninsured children on the rise

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CASPER, Wyo. — The number of children in the United States who have no health insurance is increasing.

“About 4.3 million children did not have any health insurance coverage in 2018, an increase of 425,000 (or 0.6 percentage points) from the previous year,” Edward Berchick and Laryssa Mytka said in the Census Bureau’s announcement.

That accounts for 5.5% of children under age 19 in the country.

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For the overall population, 8.5% of Americans were uninsured last year, up from the 7.9% in 2017.

A new “Health Insurance Coverage in the United States” 2018 report from the U.S. Census Bureau released on Tuesday, Sept. 10 shows that 27.5 million people didn’t have health insurance at any point last year.

That is up from 25.6 million uninsured Americans in 2017.

“The percentage of people with health insurance coverage for all or part of 2018 was 91.5 percent, lower than the rate in 2017 (92.1 percent),” the Census Bureau adds. “Between 2017 and 2018, the percentage of people with public coverage decreased 0.4 percentage points, and the percentage of people with private coverage did not statistically change.”

67.3% of those with insurance had private health care coverage, while 34.4% had public coverage.

“Of the subtypes of health insurance coverage, employer-based insurance remained the most common, covering 55.1 percent of the population for all or part of the calendar year,” the Census Bureau said.

Those covered under Medicaid decreased 0.7% to 17.9% of the population. Medicare coverage increased 0.4%.

Berchick and Mytka say that the reason for an increase in uninsured children is due to decline’s in children’s Medicaid and CHIP coverage.

“While the percentage of children with private health insurance coverage did not statistically change, the percentage with public coverage fell by 1.3 percentage points,” they said. “Most of this decrease was because children’s Medicaid and CHIP coverage rates declined.”

“In 2018, 35.3% of children had Medicaid or CHIP, compared with 36.5% in 2017. Both of these programs target low-income children.”

The change in the rate of insurance coverage affected younger children more.

“Medicaid and CHIP coverage fell for the youngest children (under 6 years old) and for 6-to-11 year-olds, but did not statistically change among 12-to-18 year-olds,” Berchick and Mytka reported.

“The uninsured rate also rose for children under 6 years old and for 12-to-18 year-olds.”

The following chart chows the percentage of children under 19 uninsured by age and by region:

U.S. Census Bureau