Wednesday, September 11, 2013

New WCCF Report on Uninsured Kids and Ways for Schools to Help

As kids return to the classroom this fall, they need to have access to health care to be able to thrive in school and reach their full potential.  New county-level data from the U.S. Census Bureau illustrate the potential for schools throughout the state to help disseminate information about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and facilitate enrollment of children and other family members in health insurance plans.

A new WCCF paper examines the new data on uninsured children. It also explains how the ACA can improve coverage, summarizes particular challenges for ACA implementation in Wisconsin, and outlines options for schools to help children get insurance and the health care they need to succeed in the classroom.

Although the Census Bureau will issue new state-level survey data next week on insurance coverage in 2012, the 2011 figures released at the end of August will continue for the next year to be the best source of county-level data and detailed uninsurance rates for different age groups and different income levels.

Some of the highlights of the data relating to health insurance for kids include the following:
  • The 61,000 uninsured kids in Wisconsin in 2011 amounted to 4.5% of the children in our state – enough to fill Miller Park about one and a half times.
  • Although Wisconsin continues to have a relatively low percentage of uninsured kids, a few other states have climbed past us in the last year or two, dropping our ranking to 10th best.  (We'll update that next week using 2012 data.)
  • If we achieved the same rate (1.8%) of uninsured kids as Massachusetts, which has been pioneering health care reform, there would be about 36,000 fewer uninsured children in Wisconsin.
  • Our state’s rural areas have a larger percentage of kids who are uninsured – led by Clark, Forest, Lafayette, Vilas and Bayfield counties.
  • More than three-fifths (63.5%) of Wisconsin’s uninsured children are in families with income under 200% of the federal poverty level, so they meet the income test for eligibility for BadgerCare without any premium.
  • 92% of uninsured WI kids are under 400% of FPL – which is the income ceiling on premium subsidies for coverage purchased in the new health insurance Marketplace that begins in January.
The new WCCF paper examines the ways that the ACA makes it possible for Wisconsin to reach the far lower rate of uninsured children that has been achieved in Massachusetts, and it describes some of the challenges Wisconsin must overcome to accomplish that goal.

More importantly, the paper recommends a wide variety of actions that schools can take to help families understand the health care reform law and get the health insurance they need.

Read more here.

Jon Peacock

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