Illinois is now a state with one of the lowest rates of uninsured children, with an even more notable change: racial disparities in health insurance coverage for children have narrowed.
An annual report conducted by Voices for Illinois Children, a children’s advocacy organization that conducts policy research and analysis, shows that four years since 2008, the number of uninsured children in Illinois has dropped 2.2 percentage points to 3.4 percent. Three years from 2009, the number of uninsured Latinos has decreased three percentage points, while the number of uninsured African American and Asian American has decreased two points from 6 percent to 4 percent.
Nationwide, an estimated 12 percent of Latino children are lacking health insurance while only a quarter of that number of children are uninsured in Illinois. The survey revealed that Illinois is third in line among states with the lowest number of uninsured children.
But the striking gap between the number of white children and non-white children with health care coverage is still entrenching and troublesome. The number of uninsured white children have remained in the 5 percent range on a national scale, but the rate of uninsured Latino children is still more than twice the rate of insured white children.
The gap in children’s health insurance may not be explained away by access to health care services, age appropriate benefits in a medical home and health care coverage for all children, as the study suggests. While President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act attempts to tackle the three priorities above, it may be too soon to expect a dramatic change from the Act.
The Affordable Care Act is still in its early stages, like the children it attempts to cover effectively. The study openly suggests that with this new policy more widespread health care coverage of children, regardless of racial background, may be possible in the future.