Uninsured American Children

Kimiko G. Judith

There are currently 9 million uninsured children in the US. Census data shows that 70% of those children live in a home where at least one parent works full-time. The same data indicates that about two thirds of these children would qualify for government-sponsored health insurance if the parents were to apply for it. Uninsured people are far more likely to go without essential medical care, including vaccinations and treatments for potentially fatal illnesses. This is especially sad when children are involved, because they are so dependent on their parents and the social organizations that are set up to help them. A complicated enrollment process and lack of knowledge about the programs are the main reasons given for why so many of these eligible children are not enrolled in government sponsored health insurance programs.

Perhaps the government likes keeping things the way they are in order to avoid paying for health care for all eligible children? If not, there is no reason that the enrollment process for government-sponsored health insurance should be complicated. Everything could be done on a single sheet of paper with a copy of a tax return attached to prove financial eligibility. These forms could be available in any doctor’s office or hospital. They could be simple enough that anyone could understand them and have time to complete them.

The issue of parents not knowing about the availability of the programs could also be solved if the government really wanted to appropriate adequate resources to provide health insurance to them. The money is there, it’s just not always used in the most efficient ways. The availability of public health care for eligible children is something that should be actively advertised. Public schools could send notes home with children. Hospitals could explain the program and help parents enroll newborns before they leave the hospital. The IRS could send information to families with qualifying incomes. If the enrollment process became straightforward and simple, and parents were made aware of the availability of the programs, our country could have 3 million children without health insurance instead of 9 million. That’s a big difference.

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