Report: Alaska has second-highest rate of children without health insurance in US
Health care is an issue everywhere, not only in Alaska.
But a new report underscores the serious concern, especially for the state's youngest residents.
The report from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families surveyed all 50 states and the District of Columbia. According to the findings, 9.4% of Alaska's children did not have health insurance in 2018, putting the state 50th out of 51.
Only Texas ranks lower at 11.2%. Nationwide, the average stands at 5.2% — more than 4 million children.
"This is particularly troubling as more children became uninsured during a period of economic growth when more people are working and earning more and children should be gaining coverage," the report reads.
Andrew Cutting, a senior program fellow with the Alaska's Children's Trust, says Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) could be used to cover more kids.
According to an interactive state breakout of the report, about 85% of uninsured Alaska children eligible for CHIP participated in 2017, compared with a national average of 93%.
"There's 18,000 kids in Alaska who aren't getting the checkups that they need, and that's a problem that we should be addressing," Cutting said.
Study authors say the causes of the increase in uninsured children are likely due to political decisions made by national and state leaders. The report reads:
"This serious erosion of child health coverage is likely due in large part to the Trump Administration’s actions that have made health coverage harder to access and have deterred families from enrolling their eligible children in Medicaid and CHIP. These actions include attempting to repeal the ACA and deeply cut Medicaid, cutting outreach and advertising funds, encouraging states to put up more red tape barriers that make it harder for families to enroll or renew their eligible children in Medicaid or CHIP (or ignoring it when they do), eliminating the ACA’s individual mandate penalty, and creating a pervasive climate of fear and confusion for immigrant families. That has left many of these families reluctant to enroll their (largely) citizen children in public coverage for fear of having this held against them."
However, the numbers show Alaska is going against the U.S. trend. Since 2016, the percentage of uninsured children in the state has dropped from 10.3% to its current 9.4%.
Jes Stugelmayer contributed to this report.
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