About five million uninsured U.S. children qualify for the Children's Health Insurance Program or Medicaid but are not enrolled in either program, according to a study published Friday in the journal Health Affairs, Reuters reports.
The study, conducted by the Urban Institute Health Policy Center, found that about 7.3 million children nationwide were uninsured on an average day in 2008. About 65% of the uninsured children qualified for CHIP or Medicaid. Families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford private coverage can enroll their children in low-cost health insurance through CHIP.
The report also found that 39% of the eligible uninsured children live in California, Florida or Texas. More than half of U.S. children live in these three states, according to the study.
The study recommended that officials pursue policy changes and new initiatives to enroll more eligible children in CHIP and Medicaid.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the study provides the department with valuable information on where uninsured children live. She said, "This new data will help us to focus our efforts and our grant funding where they are most needed" (Allen, Reuters, 9/3).
In a Health Affairs commentary piece accompanying the Urban Institute study, Sebelius describes the Obama administration's plans for enrolling more uninsured children in CHIP and Medicaid. She writes, "As we implement the Affordable Care Act, we do not have to wait -- indeed, we have a moral obligation to move forward -- to close this gap in health coverage among children" (Sebelius, Health Affairs, 9/3).