Missouri’s Children Face a Health Insurance Crisis

Nationwide health insurance enrollment declines are across the board for children. Data collected through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services by Georgetown University indicates that more than 4 million children have become unenrolled in critical health insurance coverage since 2016 (1).

Disappointingly, Missouri is no 1. with a 15.1 percent decline in children enrolled in Medicaid (MOHealthNet) or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) (2). This equates to an estimated 83,000 Missouri children, who find themselves currently uninsured (3). The impact of this crisis is being felt most by Missouri’s vulnerable, including rural white and urban black children and families, who make up a large portion of MOHealthNet and CHIP recipients in Missouri (4). Given this shocking drop, it is important that we recognize that Missouri has a children’s enrollment crisis.

Researchers agree that children who go without health insurance have an increased risk of having poorer health outcomes than their covered counterparts. Children in poor health have increased chances of having negative early education outcomes which, over time, could lead to significant impacts on their future employability (5). 

Governor Mike Parsons and the Missouri Legislature must provide the needed resources to the Department of Social Services to help overcome this crisis. The consequences of so many Missouri children going without coverage are dire. If this issue is not addressed, we will see the results in future economic, workforce and competitiveness issues in the global marketplace.

Originally printed as a Letter to the Editor to the Columbia, Missouri Tribune, and can be accessed here: https://www.columbiatribune.com/opinion/20200123/missouris-children-face-health-insurance-crisis

Alker, J., Roygardner, L., “The Number of Unenrolled Children is on the Decline”, Georgetown University, Health Policy Institute’s Center for Children and Families, https://ccf.georgetown.edu/2019/10/29/the-number-of-uninsured-children-in-on-the-rise-acs/, October 2019.

2 Brooks, T. “Most Recent CMS Data Show Child Enrollment in Medicaid/CHIP Dips Again in June 2019”. Georgetown University, Health Policy Institute’s Center for Children and Families“. https://ccf.georgetown.edu/2019/10/17/most-recent-cms-data-show-child-enrollment-in-medicaid-chip-dips-again-in-june-2019/. October 2019.

3 Ibid

4 Missouri Foundation for Health. “Missouri Medicaid Basics – Spring 2019”. https://mffh.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/2018-Missouri-Medicaid-Basics-web.pdf. January 2019.

5Van Zon SKR, Reijneveld SA, Mendes de Leon CF, Bültmann U. ”The impact of low education and poor health on unemployment varies by work life stage [published correction appears in Int J Public Health. 2019 Jun;64(5):809-812]. Int J Public Health. 2017;62(9):997–1006. doi:10.1007/s00038-017-0972-7

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