Health care for uninsured children

There is good news for the parents of the 8.4 million children in the U.S. who do not have health insurance.

Most of these children are eligible for low-cost or free health care coverage through Medicaid or the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

Parents can find out how to enroll their uninsured children in these programs by calling toll-free 1 (877) KIDS-NOW.

Recently, Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., a physician and the president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the country's largest foundation devoted exclusively to the health and health care of all Americans, responded to several questions about the issue.

Q. Does being uninsured really affect a child's health?

A. Yes. Children without health insurance are less likely to get the medical care they need, when they need it. According to new data, one-third of uninsured children did not receive any medical care for an entire year, while nearly all insured children got the care they needed.

Q. If parents work, can their children still be eligible for coverage?

A. Yes. These programs are designed for working families. On average, a family of four earning up to $38,000 a year or more may qualify for low-cost or free health care coverage through Medicaid or SCHIP. Through these programs, children have access to regular checkups, hospitalizations, vision and hearing screenings, and more.

Q. Are some children more likely to be uninsured than others?

A. Unfortunately, minority children are more likely to be uninsured than white children, with Latino children being the most likely to be left behind. Twenty percent of Latino children are uninsured, compared to 9 percent of African-American children and 6 percent of white children.

Q. If health care coverage is available, why are so many children still uninsured?

A. Often, children are not enrolled because their parents do not realize their children are eligible. This is especially true of families where one or both parents work. Parents should call toll-free 1 (877) KIDS-NOW to find out if their children are eligible.

Millions of children are eligible for low-cost or free health care coverage.

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