Fewer Children Were Uninsured in 2012

In 2012, the percentage of children who were uninsured dropped to the lowest level ever, 7.2 percent, according to the Center for Children and Families (CCF) at the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute. CCF has released a study analyzing the statistics available through the American Community Survey (ACS), developed by the Census Bureau. Cumulatively, the rate of uninsurance among children in the United States has dropped from 9.3 percent when the ACS began to measure it in 2008 to 8.0 percent in 2010; the percentage of change between 2010 and 2012 was 0.8 percent.

Geographic Distribution

Half of uninsured children live in six states, i.e., Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas. In general, the percentages of uninsured children are higher in the South and West, lower in the Midwest and Northeast. Massachusetts and the District of Columbia have uninsurance rates under 2 percent (1.4 and 1.7 percent, respectively), Vermont’s rate is under 3 percent. At the other end of the spectrum, Nevada has the highest rate of uninsured children at 16.6 percent, followed by Alaska (13.9 percent), Arizona (13.2 percent), and Texas (12.4 percent).

Rates of Progress

From 2010 to 2012, the average change for the nation as a whole was 0.8 percent. South Dakota, Oregon, Idaho, New Mexico, and Texas made the most progress; each reduced its uninsured population at least 2 percent. About a dozen more improved their rates by more than 1 percent. In a few states, the percentage of uninsured children climbed significantly. Alaska had the biggest increase, the rate rose from 12.2 percent to 13.9 percent. The percentage of children who were uninsured rose 0.8 percent in Connecticut, Vermont, and Missouri, although in each of these states, the percentage remained below the national average.

Public Perception

A poll performed for CCF by PerryUndem Research and Communication revealed that most adults believe otherwise; 55 percent believed the number of uninsured children had grown in the last five years, while only 13 percent knew that the rate had declined. This perception may be related to the economic downturn and lagging recovery. The percentage of children whose household incomes are at or below the federal poverty level (FPL) is up to 22.6 percent. These children would be eligible for Medicaid, and CCF believes that much of the growth in children’s coverage has been increased Medicaid enrollment.