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Children's Health Insurance Coverage Up Nationwide, But PA Rates Stagnant

A new report from Georgetown University finds that nationwide, the rate for uninsured children continues to decline, even as most Americans perceive that the rate is on the rise.

“As of 2012 it was just over 7 percent nationwide without coverage,” said Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. “That is certainly still too many, but in fact that’s a historically low number.”

In Pennsylvania, the news is more of a mixed bag.

“We found that Pennsylvania still is doing better than the national average at 5.1 percent,” Alker said. “But Pennsylvania is really stagnating. We did not see any improvement over the two year period we looked at for Pennsylvania. As a result Pennsylvania dropped in the rankings from 15 to 18.”

Alker said there are about 139,000 uninsured kids in the state, so there is room for improvement.

“Most uninsured are actually already eligible for Medicaid and CHIP today, almost 70 percent,” she said. “So if states do a better job both with outreach and awareness as well as reducing some of the red tape barriers we see for families we know that we can move that needle forward even more and reduce the number of uninsured children.”

Coverage rates for children were lowest in the south and the western United States, and children in rural areas tended to have lower rates of coverage. Alker said Latino kids are also less likely to have health insurance.