Report: Health care coverage jumps for Florida children


A new report released Thursday by Florida CHAIN contends the Affordable Care Act has helped increase the ranks of Florida children with health care coverage by 36 percent since 2013.

The report, by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, declares the percentage of children nationally who have health insurance is now at 95.2 percent, an all-time high.

The situation is not quite as strong in Florida, but the Sunshine State’s jump of 36 percent over pre-ACA days is among the biggest improvements in the country, according to Florida CHAIN, a nonprofit dedicated to improving health care for Floridians.

“We’re getting closer and closer to reaching the goal of ensuring every child has access to health care,” Florida CHAIN CEO Mark Pafford stated in a news release. “By investing in the health and well-being of Florida’s children today, we are investing in the future.”

The upward trend in children’s health coverage started with the expansion of Medicaid to more children and the creation of the Children’s Health Insurance Program and subsequent improvements to both programs, Florida CHAIN reported. The Affordable Care Act, which maintained and enhanced Medicaid and CHIP coverage for children, accelerated this positive trend, according to the group.

“Florida was among the 41 states making progress in reducing its uninsured rate for children but there are still quite a few uninsured children living in Florida, and more work is needed to reach them,” Joan Alker, executive director of Georgetown University CCF, said in the release.

Florida’s uninsured rate for children is 6.9 percent, significantly higher than the national average of 4.8 percent. Florida is home to about 445,000 uninsured children, according to Florida CHAIN.

Yet Florida had the second-biggest improvement, percentage wise, in uninsured children gaining coverage since 2013, behind only Nevada’s effort, according to the report.

American Indian/Alaska Native children, Hispanic children, and children with family income between 100 and 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level continue to have the highest rates of lacking health care insurance, but all groups of children saw improvements between 2013 and 2015, Georgetown University CCF reported.

Alaska (with 10.6 percent), Texas, Arizona, North Dakota, and Wyoming (7.8 percent) have the highest rates of uninsured children in the country, according to the report. Vermont (1 percent,) Massachusetts, Hawaii, New York, and Illinois (2.5 percent) have the lowest rates.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].


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