By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News
More than 60 percent of American children are enrolled in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services data.
Kentucky’s numbers were just a bit higher, with 63 percent of the state’s 1 million children enrolled in one of the two programs. That amounts to 642,364 children. Nationally, the programs cover 46.3 million of more than 74 million children.
“Kentucky leaders have taken several steps in recent years to make it easier for children to enroll and stay enrolled in health coverage, which has led to vast increases in the number of children with health insurance,” Terry Brooks, executive director for Kentucky Youth Advocates, said in an email.
Brooks added, “Research shows us that, in addition to making it easier for children to enroll in coverage, providing affordable health coverage for parents is an important way to improve overall family health and reduce the number of uninsured children.”
Children are eligible for Medicaid if they are between the ages of 1 and 18 with a family income up to 159 percent of the federal poverty level. They are eligible for CHIP, as the Children’s Health Insurance Program is commonly called, with a family income between 160 percent and 213 percent of the poverty level.
The two programs have the same benefits, including doctor visits, dental care, hospitalization, outpatient services, psychiatrists, laboratory tests and X-rays, vision exams, hearing services, mental health services and prescription medicines.
Nationally in 2017, about four times as many children were enrolled in Medicaid as in CHIP, 36.9 million and 9.5 million, respectively. In Kentucky, nearly six times as many children were enrolled in Medicaid as in K-CHIP in 2017, 545,985 and 96,379 respectively.
Kentucky has a relatively high share, 25 percent, of children living in poverty (annual income of $24,036 or less for a family of four); 12 percent are in deep poverty (annual income of $12,018 or less for a family of four), according to the 2017 Kentucky Kids Count report.
In 2016, the most recent year for which state-by-state age population data are available, 38 states had more than half of their children enrolled in one of the programs at some point during the year, Philip Bump of The Washington Post reports.
Bump notes that North Dakota was the only state that had fewer than one-fourth of its children enrolled in either CHIP or Medicaid at some point during the year; and New Mexico, with more than 80 percent of its children enrolled in one of the two programs at some point, had the highest percentage of enrollment.