An estimated 13,000 West Virginia children were uninsured last year, a number that has increased about 44% since 2016, according to a new report released by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. West Virginia’s experience is part of a national trend that left an estimated 726,000 more children without health coverage nationwide since our country achieved an historic low number of uninsured children. Much of the coverage gain of the Affordable Care Act for children have now been eliminated. Coverage losses have been concentrated in the South and West and have been largest for white and Latino children.
“For decades, children’s health coverage had been a national success story that we could point to with pride, but the data shows that during the years of the Trump Administration the trend is now going in the wrong direction,” said Georgetown University Center for Children and Families Executive Director Joan Alker. “What’s worse, the number of children losing coverage accelerated from 2018 to 2019 during a time when unemployment was very low. The situation is likely worse today.”
The increase in the number and rate of uninsured children occurred prior to the pandemic and associated economic downturn and is attributable to losses of public coverage – primarily Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The situation has most likely deteriorated in 2020 for children as their parents lost their jobs and health coverage this year, but there is still no reliable data to estimate the extent of these coverage losses.
“We continue to see a growing number of West Virginia’s children going without health coverage,” said Jessica Ice, Executive Director of West Virginians for Affordable Health Care. “This damaging trend will have long-term consequences for children and communities across West Virginia because without health coverage, children cannot access the care they need to grow and thrive.”
Research shows children with health coverage are more likely to graduate from high school, attend college and grow up to be healthier and more productive adults.
“This data proves that it’s more important than ever to pursue policies that help kids get covered and stay covered, like increased outreach and enrollment to eligible families and a CHIP buy-in program.”
The report analyzes single-year estimates of summary data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) from 2016 through 2019.
This is the 10th annual report on uninsured children published by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, an independent, nonpartisan policy and research center founded in 2005 with a mission to expand and improve high-quality, affordable coverage for America’s children and families. The report analyzes single-year estimates of summary data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) from 2016 through 2019. For more information about the report, visit ccf.georgetown.edu
West Virginians for Affordable Health Care was formed in 2006 in order to bring a consumer voice to health care in West Virginia.