OAKLAND, CA – A report released today confirms California leads the nation in reducing the number of Latino children without health coverage. The report, Historic Gains in Health Coverage for Hispanic Children in the Affordable Care Act’s First Year, notes that the uninsurance rate for California’s Latino children declined from 9.6 percent in 2013 to 6.8 percent in 2014. In California, where nearly half the children under the age of 18 are Latino, a focus on enrollment of Latino children is an especially high priority for advocates.
Released by the Georgetown Center for Children and Families, the National Council of La Raza and the California Children’s Health Coverage Coalition, the report also shows that California’s uninsurance rate among Latino kids is significantly lower than the national average of 9.7 percent. California accounts for more than one third of the national reduction of uninsurance for Latino children.
“California is a leader in ensuring that all children in the state have access to health insurance,” said Sonya Schwartz, a research fellow at the Georgetown University Center. “We applaud the state for the progress already made and look forward to the day when California finishes the job so that all children are covered.”
Advocates note that the recent Medi-Cal expansion for adults and new Covered California marketplace coverage likely contributed to the increase in enrollment for California’s Latino children. When parents are enrolled in health insurance, their kids are more likely to be covered. They also point to the successful expansion of Medi-Cal and the state’s investment in targeted outreach to Latino families.
“Our efforts to enroll children in California are paying off, which means Latino children in California are more likely to stay healthy, attend college and contribute to our economy,” said Mike Odeh, Associate Director of Health Policy at Children Now. “This year, we have the opportunity to address the remaining uninsured Latino children via the Health for All Kids expansion of Medi-Cal. With a targeted start date of May 1, this new program will provide health insurance to every low-income child in California, regardless of their immigration status.”
Despite California’s significant progress in covering Latino families, the state is still home to 323,000 uninsured Latino children – the second largest number of any state in the country.
Advocates are using the release of this report and the last two weeks of the open enrollment period for Covered California to urge parents whose children do not have health insurance to enroll their children in coverage. Medi-Cal is open for coverage all year. They are also calling for the state to invest in targeted efforts to reach Latino families, including supporting and partnering with community organizations’ outreach and enrollment efforts, as well as translation of health care coverage materials into threshold languages so all families know the options available for their children.
To make sure undocumented children are getting the care they need as soon as possible, advocates are also encouraging families to enroll their kids into restricted-scope Medi-Cal (also known as “emergency Medi-Cal”) now. All children with restricted-scope Medi-Cal will automatically transition to full-scope Medi-Cal without having to fill out a new application. To read the full report, visit ccf.georgetown.edu.