PA sees decline in health insurance coverage for children as national rates rise

A new analysis of 2022 census data has revealed a troubling trend: The rate of uninsured children in Pennsylvania worsened during the last full year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2023 State of Pennsylvania’s Children’s Health Report found that more than 145,000 children are without health insurance.

Becky Ludwick, vice president of public policy at the Pennsylvania Partnership for Children, noted that despite continued Medicaid coverage and other flexibilities during the public health emergency, Pennsylvania is among several states seeing a decline in the rate of children accessing health insurance.

“We’ve seen the uninsured rate get worse for children; it rose to 5.2%,” Ludvik reported. “And that’s a pretty significant increase over the previous year, which was 4.4%. And we were surprised because we expected at least stable or improving coverage, as many other states have seen during this last round of censuses.”

Ludwick pointed out that children face greater barriers to accessing health insurance compared to adults. The exact reasons for this disparity are unclear, but the data suggest that some children may not be properly enrolled in Medicaid, despite being eligible.

Ludwick expected that next year’s data could show an even more troubling decline in coverage, so they are calling on the Department of Human Services to take several actions they believe could help better connect children to coverage.

“The first is to immediately restore coverage for children who lost coverage during the repeal of Medicaid’s continued coverage provision, due to an error in the way the state determined eligibility,” Ludwick recommended.

Ludwick added that they are also recommending that the Department of Human Services provide children from birth through kindergarten with continued health insurance coverage over multiple years. She further called for policy changes to ensure seamless access to health insurance between Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Disclosure: Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children/KIDS COUNT contributes to our fund for reporting on children’s issues, early childhood education, education and health issues. If you would like to help support public interest news, click here.

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