Data from a new report indicates the number of uninsured children in the United States has increased for the first time in nearly a decade. According to the Georgetown University Center for Children and Family, between 2016 and 2017, the number of uninsured children increased by about 276,000. In South Carolina, that number is 10,000. Joan Alker is Executive Director of the Georgetown center, she spoke with South Carolina Public Radio about why these numbers are important.
The Georgetown University report found that no state (the District of Columbia was the exception) was able to keep the momemtum of increasing the number of children getting insured. The study also found three quarters of the children who lost coverage during this time frame lived in states that did not expand Medicaid. South Carolina's past two governors, Nikki Haley and Henry McMaster, both rejected the Medicaid expansion. According to HealthInsuranceGuide.org, an independent insurance guide for consumers, more than 300,000 people would be covered in South Carolina, if the state accepted the expansion.
The Georgetown report was published just weeks before the Decemebr 15 deadline to apply for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) which is often referred to as Obamacare. The comprehensive, healthcare reform law was enacted in March 2010. Alker said confusion about the ACA is one reason for the increase in uninsured kids.
"Congress spent much of the year debating the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and cutting medicaid. Families were subject to a steady stream of news about coverage going away."
Alker added at the same time, funding for advertising the ACA was cut, as well as funding for community-based navigators to help people sign up.
"Most of these kids should have a path to care, but they are falling off that path, because their families are unaware that thy are able to do that and they've been getting less help," she said.
The deadline to apply for the Affordable Care Act is midnight, December 15.