At the end of 2019, the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families released a report, titled "Nation's Youngest Children Lose Health Coverage at an Alarming Rate." The report shows that nationwide, the rate of uninsured children under the age of 6 has significantly increased since 2016. This increase comes as a surprise after years of a steady decrease in the number of children who are uninsured.
“This trend is deeply disturbing because we know children experience rapid brain development during the earliest years of life, before they start kindergarten,” said Shannon Jones, Executive Director of Groundwork Ohio. “We have a critical and narrow window of time to build a healthy foundation for development, intervene to address any delays and health conditions and prevent greater challenges later in life,” Jones continued. “Health coverage is a crucial first step in providing this preventive health care for Ohio’s youngest children.”
While Ohio and the nation’s rate and number of uninsured young children increased significantly during this time period, Ohio’s rate of uninsured children is higher than the national rate (5% to 4.3%). Additionally, more than half of the nation’s uninsured children under 6 reside in seven states including Ohio, which is home to 4.1% of these young children. Historically, young children across the nation have been less likely to be uninsured compared to school-aged children. This is no longer true in Ohio where the 5% rate now exceeds the 4.7% rate for schoolaged children.
“Uninsured young children may go to the hospital in a crisis, but they aren’t regularly attending visits to the pediatrician’s office,” said Melissa Wervey Arnold, CEO Ohio Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics. “These well-child visits and other preventive care are the first and best opportunity we have to engage parents and caregivers as partners in their child’s health and wellbeing before school begins.”
“With nearly half of Ohio’s children receiving health care coverage through Medicaid, we have to examine these trends from a Medicaid lens,” said Nick Lashutka, President and CEO of the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association. “We look forward to partnering with Governor DeWine on ways to enhance children’s health care coverage and access.”
“Groundwork Ohio is committed to investigating the symptoms and causes of these startling trends and promoting targeted Medicaid policies and practices that encourage the enrollment of young children,” said Jones. “We have to hold all stakeholders including