Texas Continues to Make Gains in Children’s Health Coverage

A Georgetown University Center for Children and Families report released today found some surprising news for Texas children.  Even though the state continues to have the most uninsured children in the nation, the Lonestar State has made real progress in covering kids, with about a quarter of a million fewer uninsured children than it had four years ago. In fact, no state has seen as large of a positive swing in the number of children with health insurance. “This is good news for children and the state of Texas since health insurance coverage greatly improves the economic security of families who are faced with tough budget decisions on a daily basis,” said Laura Guerra-Cardus with the Children’s Defense Fund – Texas.  “Investing in our children’s health today helps create a strong workforce tomorrow since kids with coverage show up to school ready to learn and stay in school longer.”

Between 2009 and 2012, the number of uninsured children in Texas dropped by about 4 percentage points, with an estimated 256,000 children gaining coverage, according to data from the Georgetown University research center.  A new report on improvements between 2010 and 2012 attributes the gains to the success of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in reaching uninsured children.

“Medicaid and CHIP are examples of federal-state partnership programs that work,” said Joan Alker, author of the Georgetown University CCF report. “Together they are improving health insurance coverage for children and are a testament to what states can accomplish when they lean in and work with the federal government to meet the needs of their residents.”

The Georgetown University CCF report found that in the state of Texas, about 84 percent of children had coverage, which is not as high as the 98 percent coverage rate for seniors, but better than the coverage rate for adults ages 18-64 in 2012. About two-thirds of working-aged adults have health insurance. Many of these adults fall into the so-called coverage gap, which means they would be eligible for Medicaid coverage if and when Texas accepts federal funds to improve that vital federal-state partnership.

A national survey released along with the Georgetown University CCF report found that getting all children covered is important to Americans.  Almost nine out of ten (88%) surveyed said they wanted all children in their state to get covered.

“The truth is, as of this fall, nearly every Texas family can find health coverage for their children that fits with the family budget, now that new options are opening up in the Health Insurance Marketplace,” said Clayton Travis with Texans Care for Children.  “That’s good news for everyone, as more kids will be able to stay healthy, show up for school and get ahead in life when they have the coverage they need.”

Families interested in finding out if their children qualify for Medicaid, CHIP or financial support with a new health plan in the marketplace should visit HealthCare.gov or call (800) 318-2596.

For earlier data from 2009 and 2011, read the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families prior report here.

Written by: Christine Sinatra, Texans Care for Children. Cross-posted at State of the Children blog.