Number and Share of Kids Without Health Insurance Jump in Pre-Pandemic Report

Posted September 28, 2020
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Updates childrenwithouthealthinsurance 2020

Both the total num­ber (4.4 mil­lion) and the share (6%) of chil­dren in the Unit­ed States who did not have health insur­ance ticked upward in 2019, accord­ing to the lat­est num­bers from the Amer­i­can Com­mu­ni­ty Survey.

The fig­ures, impor­tant in and of them­selves, take on added sig­nif­i­cance because they do not take into account the effects of the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic. Data are like­ly to wors­en in the com­ing year.

The trends were felt by every racial and eth­nic group, with num­bers ris­ing across all demo­graph­ics and per­cent­age increas­es seen for sev­er­al. The changes were most pro­nounced for chil­dren of col­or, par­tic­u­lar­ly His­pan­ic or Lati­no chil­dren. Some 190,000 more Lati­no kids lacked health insur­ance in 2019 than in 2018, tak­ing the total num­ber of unin­sured chil­dren in that group to 1,805,000 (9%). The num­ber of Lati­no chil­dren with­out insur­ance has steadi­ly risen for the past three years.

Amer­i­can Indi­an kids were most like­ly to be unin­sured, with 14% lack­ing access to health care in 2019, up from 13% in 2018. The share for Black chil­dren (5%) rose one per­cent­age point between 2018 and 2019, while rates for Asian and Pacif­ic Islander and white chil­dren, and for chil­dren of two or more races, were all unchanged (4% for each group in both 2018 and 2019).

Across the states, Wyoming, Texas, South Dako­ta and North Dako­ta saw the largest per­cent­age increas­es of unin­sured chil­dren. Texas expe­ri­enced the largest increase in the num­ber of unin­sured chil­dren in 2019, with 122,000 more chil­dren unin­sured — a trou­bling fig­ure con­sid­er­ing that Texas will emerge in 2020 as one of the states hit hard­est by COVID-19. A total of 24 states and Puer­to Rico saw increas­es in child unin­sured rates, while only three (Alaba­ma, Geor­gia and Ida­ho) expe­ri­enced decreases.

The rise in the num­ber of chil­dren with­out insur­ance came as few­er fam­i­lies accessed pub­lic health pro­grams, such as Med­ic­aid, Medicare, the Children’s Health Insur­ance Pro­gram (CHIP) or cov­er­age through Vet­er­ans Affairs.

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