Medicaid Expansion May Boost Coverage For Low-Income Kids

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Between 2013 and 2014, Indiana saw its rate of uninsured Medicaid-eligible children drop from 9.8 percent to 8.7 percent.

Before the passage of the Affordable Care Act, children already were beneficiaries of relatively comprehensive medical care coverage through programs such as Medicaid and CHIP. But, a new study shows Medicaid expansion may have had an effect on increasing coverage for low-income children as well.

A report from the Urban Institute says approximately 87-percent of Medicaid-eligible Hoosier kids had health insurance coverage in 2014.

Thirty-two states have participation rates for that same group above 90 percent. Indiana ranks 44th for its childrens’ Medicaid coverage. About four out of 10 kids in Indiana receive Medicaid coverage, approximately 650,000 people.

While a majority of states saw jumps in coverage for Medicaid-eligible kids between 2013 and 2014, states that expanded Medicaid witnessed, on average, a larger jump and more coverage for that group overall.

The Urban Institute’s Genevieve Kenney says even in states such as Indiana, which implemented its HIP 2.0 plan in 2015, expansion in other states probably had a trickle-down effect.

“The awareness of the public coverage options for kids likely rose with all the activity in 2014,” Kenney says.

Joe Moser, Indiana’s Medicaid Director, says the decrease in uninsured kids is more likely do to increased outreach and awareness efforts from both the state and private companies.

Between 2013 and 2014, Indiana saw its rate of uninsured Medicaid-eligible children drop from 9.8 percent to 8.7 percent – but that improvement still lagged the state’s rate for all kids, which fell even faster.

Indiana Medicaid Director Joe Moser says the connection between the increased children’s coverage and Medicaid expansion is likely minimal, since the nationwide expansion focused on adults, not children, who were already receiving more comprehensive coverage than adults when the federal government rolled out the Affordable Care Act.

“Only insofar as the parents enrolled the kids as they were enrolling themselves would there be any connection whatsoever,” Moser says.