The last two years have seen an unprecedented drop in health insurance rates for kids
After the number of uninsured kids in the U.S. hit an all-time low in 2016, the first two years of the Trump administration took a major toll on children’s health insurance rates — 400,000 fewer kids are now covered.
According to a new study from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families and Census Bureau data, around 4.1 million American kids were uninsured in 2018, compared to the all-time low of 3.6 million under Barack Obama’s health insurance policies in 2016. That’s a jump from an uninsured rate of 4.7 percent in 2016, to 5.2 percent just two years later.
The Georgetown Center’s executive director, Joan Alker, said this study is pretty alarming because we’re in a period of economic growth right now, and more people are getting jobs. With whispers of another recession looming, she said she’s afraid of what could happen to children’s health insurance rates should the economy slow.
And, of course, a lot of this has to do with the differences in health care policy between the Trump and Obama administrations.
“Much of the gains in children’s coverage that came about as a result of the Affordable Care Act have now been reversed,” Alker said.
Authors of the study point to a lot of different factors that have contributed to the rise in uninsured kids, many of them political. First, there’s all the Trump administration’s efforts to repeal Obamacare and make cuts to Medicaid. Then there’s the administration’s delays in funding the Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP). Cuts to community outreach programs that were aimed at enrolling people under Obamacare haven’t helped the situation, either.
Oh, and there’s also the Trump Administration’s heinous immigration policy, which has deterred Latinx families in particular from seeking coverage for their kids.
It was white and Latinx kids who saw the greatest decline in their coverage rates. Kids under 6 years old were also hit particularly hard. And while the biggest coverage losses came for families who make between $29,000 and $50,000, high-income families also saw declines, likely because of huge increases in premium prices in the last couple years amid uncertainty about the future of Obamacare.
Health insurance isn’t optional for young kids, who need vaccines, development checks, and other routine care. Lanre Falusi, a national spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, worried that being uninsured at a young age could affect a child’s health for years to come.
“For children who are uninsured, I worry about the critical services they are missing out on and what it will mean for their short- and long-term health,” Falusi said.
While it’s particularly alarming that kids are losing their coverage, the healthcare crisis affects everyone in America. The overall uninsured rate for all Americans rose for the first time in a decade last year, from 8 percent to 8.5. Necessary health insurance reforms that we desperately needed were rolled back and now fewer people have insurance? Who could have seen that coming?