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Why fewer children are now covered by health insurance



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By Elizabeth Chuck

Raquel Cruz has a lot of stress in her life. She is a single mother of three daughters and runs a small infirmary. She attends a full-time school for training.

But her biggest stressor is worried about health insurance. Cruz, 47, of Pharr, Texas, earns around $ 30,000 a year and can not afford the insurance offered by the Pain Bureau where she works.

Her eldest daughters, college students, also have no insurance. Her youngest daughter, Korrie Cantu, is 1

7, young enough to receive insurance coverage through the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a federal program for low-income families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid.

But even that is not guaranteed: Last year, when Cruz was preparing to apply for a CHIP extension, Korrie's reporting was suddenly torn for more than a month.

"I ran on eggshells," Cruz said. "Even driving, because you always think," Oh, what if I get a car accident? "Or Korrie would say, 'I'll go ice skating,' and I would think, 'No, that's not a good idea.'

Raquel Cruz, bottom left, with her daughters Kellie Cantu, 23; Korrie Cantu, 17; and Kerrie Cantu, 19. Cruz and her two eldest daughters are uninsured, their youngest child covered by CHIP, but lost insurance last year. Courtesy of Raquel Cruz

Korrie is a long way off Not everyone was lucky enough to get them back, according to a report released last week by Georgetown University

that the number of US children without health insurance increased by 276,000 from 3.6 million in 2016 to 3.9 million The number of uninsured children in America since 2008, when Joan Alker, the executive director of the Georgetown Center for Children and Families and principal author d he study tracked the data.

"What was really disturbing was the number Even though the economy is doing so well, we expect the number to go down," said Alker. "Children are falling off."

"What was really disturbing was that the number has gone up even though the economy is going so well, we would expect the number to go down."

Alker said employer-sponsored health insurance coverage increased last year, an expected result of a good economy. However, losses in public insurance coverage, including CHIP, Medicaid and direct coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplace, have declined so much that the total number of uninsured children is increasing.

Several factors led to this: States refused to extend Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act: creating a gap in affordable coverage options for low-income families; Cuts in the federal budget for outreach programs for the Affordable Care Act; and federal policy aimed at immigrants who prevent people from other countries, even legal US citizens, from signing up with state health insurance.

The government is delaying the renewal of funding for CHIP, with some families failing to respond because they were not sure if they were not sure The program was out of money, it also added to chaos, experts say ,

Cruz believes the error in Korrie's reporting is due to a government administrative misunderstanding regarding her renewal request, and does not know if it relates to it Congress's failure to meet deadlines in September to allocate funds for the program ,

University of Chicago medical students hold a rally calling for Congress to re-approve funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) on December 14, 2017 in Chicago. [19659013] Scott Olson / Getty Images File

Still worried it might happen again, she's not sure what she'll do when Korrie comes of age The program next year.

"If you have no insurance, what happens if something happens?" Cruz said. "I would still take her to the ER, but I know it will be out of pocket."


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