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Eight Percent of Indiana Kids without Health Coverage

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Mary Kuhlman
PHOTO CREDIT: ANITA PEPPERS/MORUEFILE.
  • Photo credit: Anita Peppers/moruefile.

Getting to the doctor may not be easy for the 130,000 Indiana children who still don't have health insurance.

According to a new report from the Georgetown Center for Children and Families, Indiana's rate of uninsured children has essentially remained flat the past few years, at 8.2 percent. Report co-author Joan Alker said that's higher than the national rate of slightly more than 7 percent.

"The other interesting finding this year," she said, "is that children in working families living on the brink of poverty are those that have the highest rate of uninsurance, compared to other income groups."

Alker said those are children who would benefit the most should Congress continue funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which is set to expire next fall.

Alker said there are many benefits to ensuring that all children have access to health coverage.

"We do know from a lot of research that children who have coverage - be it private or public coverage - do better in school," she said. "They have better access to primary and preventive health-care services, and their families are protected from bankruptcy that can arise from unpaid medical bills."

In the past five years, the number of uninsured children nationwide declined by 1.7 million - thanks in part to Medicaid and CHIP. Alker said a lot is riding on the outcome of Congress' debate over reauthorizing CHIP.

"I'm certainly guardedly optimistic that CHIP will be funded next year," she said. "On the other hand, we do have a certain amount of difficulties in coming to agreement on anything. So, I hope that CHIP doesn't get caught up in that."

The report also noted that Elkhart County's uninsured-child rate of 17.9 percent is among the highest in the nation.

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