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Trends in California Health Insurance Coverage

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Credit: National Cancer Institute - Bill Branson (Photographer) - PD

(Best Syndication News) - A new report from the California HealthCare Foundation found that one out of every 10 children was uninsured; over 1.1 million children in California were uninsured in 2011. The proportion of uninsured children is higher that the nation’s rate. The report came from the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) and Diringer and Associates.

The report also found that more children had public health insurance with fewer of them getting coverage from their parents’ employer. The California children's health insurance program, Healthy Families, has run into problems over the last three years because of budget cuts funding issues. There was a decline in enrollment for Healthy Families.

Nevada has the highest proportion of children that are uninsured, while Massachusetts has the lowest proportion. In California, the rate of uninsured children is more than the national average and more than in most states.

In 2011, Children 18 and under were mostly covered by private insurance; fifty-six percent were covered in this manner. Medi-Cal (California Medicaid) or Healthy Families (California’s public insurance program) was used to provide 38 percent of the children with health insurance. Only eleven percent of the children did not have health insurance coverage in 2011.

Between 2002 and 2011, employee-based coverage for children trended lower, with a decline of 16 percent, while coverage by Medi-Cal and Healthy Families increased 46 percent.

Medi-Cal covered almost 3.7 million children in 2011, compared to 2.6 million in 2001.

"Our findings have direct relevance to the health reform issues covered during the Presidential campaign," said Michael Cousineau, lead author of the report and associate professor in the departments of Family Medicine and Preventive Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. "With full implementation of the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act more certain, there are new opportunities for many of these children to gain coverage and, more importantly, access to care including immunizations, annual checkups, and care for acute and chronic health problems. Even children of some small business employees might benefit since small employers are eligible for a subsidy to help provide insurance for their employees and their families."

With the new California Health Benefits Exchange, the report estimates that around 1 million uninsured children could qualify for Medi-Cal or private coverage. Undocumented immigrant children would not be able to qualify and they would be at the mercy of safety net clinics and public hospitals.

By: Marsha Quinn
Health Reporter

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