Rate of uninsured kids drops in U.S., Florida

Published Nov. 21, 2013

More Florida children have health insurance, but the state still has one of the nation's highest rates of uninsured kids, according to a new report by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.

Not quite 11 percent of Florida children — about 436,000 — lack health insurance, a rate that is still higher than the national average rate of 7.2 percent, the report says. Florida ranks among the top six states with the highest numbers of uninsured children, according to the study.

"Florida can continue to make progress and cover the remaining uninsured children by removing roadblocks such as the five year waiting period for children of lawfully residing immigrants," Leah Barber-Heinz of Florida CHAIN said in a statement.

Consumer advocates say when parents get coverage, it's more likely their kids will, too.

"Florida can also do right by our kids by expanding Medicaid coverage for their parents and other adults," said Barber-Heinz. "When parents don't have to worry about unpaid medical bills, the whole family is more financially secure and children's health needs are more likely to be met."

The Georgetown report attributes the decline from 2010 to 2012 to the success of Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), known as Kid Care in Florida. Most uninsured children are eligible for KidCare — call 1-888-540-5437 to learn more.

The CHIP program could grow even more critical for lower-income families. The Affordable Care Act contains a so-called "family glitch'' that is unlikely to be fixed easily in the current political climate. The glitch: large employers must provide "affordable" insurance only for full-time workers – not for their families.

Workers who have access to affordable coverage (costing no more than 9.5 percent of income) are disqualified from subsidies on the insurance Marketplace that otherwise would help them afford family coverage. So many may need to insure their children under CHIP.