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With the June 25, 2015, Supreme Court decision to uphold key elements of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, it’s a good time to evaluate the law’s effect on children. During the run-up to passage, the law’s supporters included various child-friendly measures in the law that aimed to decrease the number of uninsured and underinsured children.

Before Obamacare passed, an estimated 88.1 percent of children in the United States had health insurance coverage, according to the Health Reform Monitoring Survey. Much of this success was due to expanded coverage under Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provided children access to free or reduced-fee care if their parents fell a certain percentage below the federal poverty line. Of the uninsured children, an estimated 69 percent could be enrolled in a program like CHIP and Medicaid but were not, according to the Children’s Defense Fund.

Considering the high percentage of children who already had health care coverage before Obamacare, the law’s impact on the rate of uninsured children has been moderate. The Health Reform Survey found no statistically significant change in the uninsured rate for children under age 17 from the Act’s beginning to a year later, with a historically low child uninsured rate of 7 percent holding steady.

Although the number of children covered may not have changed dramatically, their benefits have expanded under the Affordable Care Act. Ideally, these expansions will improve care for children, even those who were already insured.

Takeaways

  • The Affordable Care Act expanded services that insurance companies participating in the insurance marketplace were required to offer for children.
  • From September 2013 to August 2014, the number of uninsured children has not increased or decreased significantly.
  • Due to state’s Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), uninsured rates for children were already low.

Last reviewed by Eva Benmeleh, PhD. Review Date: September 2020

References

  1. Administration for Children & Families. The Affordable Care Act: What It Means for Children, Families, and Early Childhood Programs.
  2. Children’s Defense Fund. The State of America’s Children 2014.
  3. Georgetown University Health Policy Institute. ACA Should Bring Insured Rate for Children Up to 95%.
  4. Georgetown University Health Policy Institute. School-Aged Children Benefit from ACA “Stairstep” Provision.
  5. Health Affairs. A First Look at How the Affordable Care Act Is Affecting Coverage Among Parents and Children.
  6. Health Reform Monitoring Survey. A First Look at Children’s Health Insurance Coverage Under the ACA in 2014.
  7. Kids Health. How Can Obamacare Help Kids?
  8. U.S. News & World Report. How Obamacare Affects Children.

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