According to an article in today’s Salt Lake Tribune, more and more children in the U.S. are uninsured. The Deseret News, in its article today on the same issue, has a chart on the statistics.
More than half of America’s 9 million uninsured children live in two-parent families, a new analysis of 2005 U.S. census data show. And in most of these two-parent families, both parents work. In Utah, a whopping 91 percent of an estimated 88,458 uninsured kids have at least one working parent.
Low-income families – those with incomes at twice the federal poverty level, or up to $33,200 for a family of three – are still most at risk. In Utah, 65 percent of uninsured kids fall in this category, the report shows. But “increasingly, this is a problem for the middle-class,” said Judi Hilman, executive director of the Utah Health Policy Project.
The Governor of Utah is proposing a mandate that all children in Utah have health insurance.
Under the plan, parents would be required to enroll their kids in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) if they qualify. This would take a big bite out of Utah’s uninsured, at least 52,000 youth.
But mandated coverage won’t work for everyone until private insurers offer affordable plans for middle-income families, says Hilman. “How can you mandate something that’s not affordable?”
My point exactly. Having been in uninsured situations before (with small children) I can attest first hand at how discriminatory and sometimes unattainable our current system is with regards to health care. Families either go without insurance or go in debt if health care is needed.
What’s wrong with this picture? Health care is a basic need. As are food, water, and education. When these needs are not provided or made unattainable a dominoe effect occurs. Lack of health care and food affect young people’s ability to concentrate in school. And we know what happens then (see my article below on No Child Left Behind and Utah’s schools). The “greatest country on earth” is failing to provide these basic human needs to a siginicantly large portion of our population.