Number of insured Kentuckians continues to rise

09/12/2017 02:43 PM

The number of Kentuckians with health insurance jumped again, propelling the state to nearly 95 percent of all people covered in 2016, according to new data from the U.S. Census Bureau; however funding challenges loom at both the state and federal level.

The data shows the percent of people with health insurance in Kentucky increased from 85.7 percent in 2013 to 94.9 percent in 2016, according to Kentucky Youth Advocates.

Nearly 97 percent of children under the age of 19-years old had health coverage in 2016, according to one-year estimates from the American Community Survey. Nearly 94 percent of kids had coverage in 2013. This is an estimated increase of 37,000 children, according to a KYA news release.

“The newly released data highlights Kentucky’s continuing progress in health coverage for children and families,” said Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates. “We know that having health insurance means children are able to visit the doctor or the dentist to get the care they need to stay healthy. We also know that there is a lot on the line for child and family health in the coming months at the state and federal levels.”

There are some major health hurdles the state and federal government will soon cross. At the end of this month, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is up for a funding extension in Congress.

CHIP provides health coverage for 8.9 million children across the United States, according to 2016 enrollment data. The program provides health coverage through Medicaid and separate CHIP programs. The insurance program is administered by states.

The Kentucky version of the program, known as K-CHIP helps lower the number of uninsured by providing insurance for kids with working parents who struggle to make ends meet.

CHIP is a strong example of bipartisan policy that has been effective at delivering quality insurance to children in the way state see fit,” Brooks said. “It receives support across the aisle because it works. Kentucky kids are counting on Congress to act swiftly and extend CHIP funding to protect children’s access to health care.”

The number of overall insured in Kentucky could also be impacted by a proposed 1115 waiver, known as Kentucky HEALTH which focuses on personal responsibility in order for low income earners to receive benefits — the plan is proposed by the Bevin administration.

The waiver is expected to drop 95,000 people in Kentucky from Medicaid coverage. The changes to the plan are also anticipated to save the state $358 million.

“The Bevin Administration’s proposed changes to the Medicaid program through the 1115 Waiver could create very real barriers to coverage for many receiving coverage through expansion – this we know,” Brooks said. “We also know that kids are more likely to have health insurance when their parents do, and the barriers to coverage of the proposed 1115 Waiver will consequently impact the health of Kentucky’s children.”

“Critical health policy decisions for children are imminent at the federal, state, and local levels. That is why the Bevin Administration must ensure the 1115 Medicaid Waiver implementation is pro-family. That is also why we need Majority Leader McConnell, and every member of Kentucky’s Congressional delegation, to ensure that CHIP funding is not only extended but deepened.”


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