December 11, 2013 (San Diego’s East County-) -- More California children are getting the health care coverage they need. According to a report from Georgetown University's Center for Children and Families, more than 100,000 California kids gained health insurance between 2010 and 2012, which puts the state's uninsured rate among children at about 8 percent.
Despite high poverty rates and a weak economic recovery, said the Georgetown Center's executive director, Joan Alker, children's access to health coverage is improving through federal and state programs.
"Very few Americans are aware of the success that our country has had through Medicaid and CHIP in reducing the number of uninsured children," Alker said, "and I think that's an important 'good news' story that needs to get out."
For some groups, the report said, the progress hasn't been as significant. Nationally, Alker said, the rate of uninsured Latino children is several times higher than the overall rate of slightly more than 7 percent. Part of the reason, she said, might be that parents who are immigrants may have a language barrier or be fearful of the government.
Overall, said Kelly Hardy, state director of health policy for Children Now, the report is encouraging because kids need access to medical care in order to stay healthy and do well in school. She credited the expansion of Medi-Cal, which is California's version of Medicaid.
"Currently, about 50 percent of all kids in California are insured through Medi-Cal coverage," she said, "so that's been really picking up the slack when people lose private coverage."
Hardy said a better job needs to be done to inform parents that most children in the state are eligible for some type of health program.
"Either Medi-Cal, or through Covered California, or of course, through their employer coverage," she said, "and that kids really need to be covered, so that they can get the care that they need."
The report and poll are online at ccf.georgetown.edu.