What the New Census Data on the Uninsured Mean for Texas Children

I took a dive this morning into just-released new Census numbers on uninsured in Texas and the nation for 2011.  Sorry for the blizzard of numbers, but I’ll try to make them paint a picture! No surprise, Texas still has the worst uninsured ranking in the country, with 6.08 million uninsured (23.8% of all Texans).  This is a teeny bit better than last year’s 24.6% uninsured rate—just barely “statistically significant.”

But the picture remains brighter for Texas kids, whose uninsured rate is stable at 16.3% of kids under age 19 (1.2 million uninsured Texas kids).  Only in Texas could we celebrate moving to 49th from last place, but Nevada has now solidly claimed the worst-kids’-coverage spot with their 19.3% child uninsured rate.

Of course, 1.2 million uninsured children is nothing for Texas to applaud—we have about 9 uninsured children for every one in Nevada.

Another interesting factoid:  of our 1.2 million uninsured Texas children, around 740,000 are children under the CHIP income cap who are either US citizens or legal residents.  That means—you guessed it—they could be enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP, but they aren’t!  So, clearly we still have loads of work to do educating Texas parents about their options and making it easier than ever for eligible kids to get care and keep their care.

Forgive me if I can’t resist talking a little bit about our Texas parents who lack health coverage.  Texans are much less likely to get health care through their job (or spouse or parent’s job) than in the US as a whole.  Barely over half of Texans are covered this way 50.6% (compared to US 55.1%).  And, working-age adults here have an uninsured rate that is nearly twice what our kids face: 30.9% or nearly one in three adults 19 to 64.  The why is simple; Medicaid and CHIP are there for our poor and low-income kids, but Texas adults don’t have those options.

Other signs on my deep dive of the importance of Medicaid and CHIP for children: both the number and percentage of Texas kids with private insurance has dropped in the last four years, but the number and percentage of kids with Medicaid and CHIP has taken up the slack.  The only group of Texas children whose uninsured rate went up was those kids just over the CHIP limit, in families between 200-300% FPL.

There is some good news about “really big kids, ” too: uninsured rates improved significantly for Texans 19-25 since 2010, who now have new options to stay on a parent’s health plan until they hit their 26th birthday.  You can really see the impact in the numbers, because the uninsured rate for Texas adults 26-64 did not improve at all.

O.K., time to dive back into the numbers again.  Stay tuned for an update on how Texas uninsured would fare under the ACA’s private and public health coverage options in 2014!

Written by: Anne Dunkelberg, Center for Public Policy Priorities