Public News Service
October 28, 2015
BALTIMORE – Maryland made a huge reduction in the number of children not covered by health insurance last year.
A new study by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families found that the number of uninsured children declined by a little more than 28 percent in the state.
Matthew Celentano, deputy director of the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative, said the progress in Maryland took years of hard work.
“I think we have to be extremely grateful to leadership across the state in all areas,” he said, “including elected officials that have made children a priority for a long time.”
Celentano credited the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and the state’s strong Children’s Health Program for much of the progress.
Many people don’t think of the Medicaid expansion as a children’s issue. But according to Joan Alker, director of the Center for Children and Families, the expansion of Medicaid was a major factor in reducing the number of uninsured children nationwide.
“We know from past research that covering parents results in what we call a strong ‘welcome mat’ effect for kids,” she said. “That means when the parent learns about their own coverage opportunity, they may learn their child is also eligible.”
Nationwide, the number of children without health insurance declined 16 percent in 2014, and states that expanded Medicaid under the ACA saw reductions at nearly twice the rate of states that did not.
Even with insurance, navigating the health-care system can be complicated, so Celentano said getting people an insurance card is just the first step.
“Just because folks now have coverage doesn’t mean they’re actually going to get that on-the-ground care,” he said, “and we need to work together to make sure that folks have health literacy, which is just as important as having the card.”
Research shows that getting health insurance to children has far-reaching benefits, from improved school performance and graduation rates to better economic success as adults.
The report is online at ccf.georgetown.edu.