No Health Insurance For 20% Of Arizona Children
A new report from the US Census Bureau notes that more than one in five children in some counties in Arizona do not have health insurance. The lack of health insurance is greater in some urban than rural areas.
This report, which reflects data from 2006 and is the most recent available, is a glaring and disturbing example of a vulnerable population of Americans who are without health insurance.
More than ten years ago, Arizona initiated Kids Care, Arizona’s version of the S-CHIP program. Kids Care is a federally subsidized program that provides health insurance coverage for children of the working poor, which in Arizona is defined as families who earn up to twice the federal poverty level.
Recently, premiums for the Kids Care program were increased, which may be a burden for some families who will not be able to cover the additional costs. Until last month, the monthly premium for parents for their children’s health insurance ranged from $10 to no more than $35 per month.
Another option for low-income families with children in Arizona is free health insurance through the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS). To be eligible for this program, a family must earn below the federal poverty level, which is $18,310 for a family of three.
The number of uninsured children varies by county. In Maricopa County, which includes the Phoenix metropolitan area, more than 27 percent of children in families with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level were reported to be without health insurance. The number is just above 20 percent in Pima (which includes Tucson), Cochise, and Yuma counties.
In June 2006, there were 58,609 children enrolled in Kids Care. As of June 2009, the number had declined to 53,408. Reasons for the drop in enrollees may include lack of information: some working parents do not know their children are eligible for the low-cost health insurance. Other families may have lost their jobs and so became eligible for AHCCCS, which covers all family members at no charge. Other children may not be legal residents, and there are always the parents who cannot afford the premiums.
Overall, the health insurance picture for children in Arizona is grim: According to Families USA, Arizona has the fourth highest percentage (16.2%) of uninsured children in the nation. Clearly, for many parents in Arizona, a health insurance program that covers their children cannot come too soon.
Arizona Daily Star
Families USA report (PDF)
Kids Care website
US Census Bureau