Nearly 5 Million U.S. Children Go Without Health Insurance

Filed under: In The News, Special Needs, Research Reveals: Babies, Research Reveals: Toddlers & Preschoolers, Research Reveals: Big Kids, Research Reveals: Tweens, Research Reveals: Teens, Health


"Katie ... who?"

The name Katie Beckett often draws blank stares -- even among adults who work with disabled children. But the Katie Beckett Waiver is a federal program (also known as the Deeming Waiver or the 2176 Model Waiver) that often enables disabled children to be eligible for Medicaid and other services.

Precise Katie Beckett rules vary from state to state, but if you have a child with a disability, they're worth investigating.

Never heard of any of this?

Join the club. The Reuters news service reports almost 5 million children go without health insurance in the United States even though they qualify for the Children's Health Insurance Program, Medicaid and other public resources.

Parents just don't know these resources exist.

A study published in the latest edition of the journal Health Affairs recommends reforms to make sure children get insured -- including enrolling them automatically after analyzing income tax data.

According to the report, some 7.3 million children were uninsured on an average day in 2008, yet 65 percent of them were eligible for some kind of public coverage.

Almost 40 percent (1.8 million) of eligible but uninsured children live in California, Texas and Florida, the report issued by the Washington-based Urban Institute Health Policy Center states. The remaining 60 percent (2.9 million) live in 10 states.

"This new data will help us to focus our efforts and our grant funding where they are most needed," U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius says in a prepared statement. "We now have a much better sense of where most uninsured children live, and which communities may need more help."

Medicaid provides health care for poor, disabled and elderly patients. CHIP provides low-cost coverage for children in families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough by buy private health insurance coverage.

"No child should have to skip a doctor's appointment or go without the medicine they need because their family can't pay," Sebelius adds, challenging state and local officials to "find and enroll those 5 million kids."

Katie Beckett, by the way, was a child who contracted viral encephalitis and needed home care. She and her mother became health care advocates, leading to the Katie Beckett Waiver for Medicaid.

"Whatever and wherever my career takes me I know that I will always be an advocate for people with disabilities," wrote Beckett, now a grown woman, in 2002. "You can count on that."

Related: Young People Could Fall Through Cracks in Health Care Reform

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