The number of Hispanic children who lack health coverage has grown dramatically in the last four years due to changes in federal laws, reduced funding for health programs and fear on the part of immigrants to ask for those benefits, new reports reveal.
A report, prepared by Georgetown University and released this Friday, found that the overall percentage of children without health insurance nationwide grew from 4.7% in 2016 (the lowest figure in history) to 5.7% in 2019, representing a increase of 726,000 minors without this insurance in the mentioned period.
And, based on data from the Census Bureau, those “significantly adverse changes” were detected in 29 states, the report says.
Another report, from the Colorado Health Institute (CHI, non-governmental) states that, based on the Colorado Access to Health Survey and federal data, Hispanic children have been the most impacted by this situation, both local and national level.
Specifically, “the percentage of Hispanic children without health insurance grew from 7.9% in 2017 to 9.2% in 2019” nationally, the CHI report says, citing data from Georgetown University.
The only highest number is that of Native American children, among whom 13.8% lack coverage, both institutions highlight.
Of the top 10 states with the highest number of Latino children, the uninsured rate in 2019 ranged from 2.3% in New York to 17.5% in Texas, reported by the Georgetown University.
In Colorado, only 3% of white minors do not have health insurance and that figure has been stable for five years, while among Hispanics that percentage is almost 8%, when in 2017 it reached only 2.4%.
“It is about fear,” said Allie Morgan, CHI director, in a written statement, introducing the report that looks at the past few years, in which President Donald Trump has led the federal government and made the fight against Obamacare a political priorities.
“Given the rhetoric and what we have seen at the federal level in recent years, families are really afraid of accessing public programs, or enrolling their children in the benefits that could affect their chances of staying in the country.” added.
Morgan warned that the situation would have worsened in 2020 due to the pandemic, but there are not yet enough data to determine the percentage of children (of all ethnic groups) who lost or obtained health coverage this year.
A previous CHI report (April 2020) states that “having health insurance is important for the well-being of children and for the economic security of families”, but, given that 40% of children depend on the state for its coverage and that, due to the COVID-19 crisis, there will be cuts in public spending, the trends for 2021 are not the best.
“With the challenges we see this year and with the sharp increase in unemployment, I believe that many families have already lost the coverage they had through their employers. And, unfortunately, we are expecting that the numbers will be even worse next year,” Morgan anticipated.