Children Need Health Coverage

Photo by: Lori Wilson, Children’s Medical Center, Dallas, TX

Today, around 95% of kids in the U.S. have health insurance coverage—that’s many more than even a decade ago. These children receive their health care coverage through an array of programs.

Compared to uninsured kids, children with health coverage are more likely to attend school, graduate from high school and become healthier adults who have a greater ability to give back. Without a strong national investment in children’s health, kids are less likely to live healthy and productive lives. 


  • Medicaid is a jointly funded federal-state health insurance program that provides affordable coverage to children in low-income families and to kids with special health care needs. 
  • In the course of a year, 35 million children rely on Medicaid at some point for health care services. This important program provides children with access to comprehensive, pediatric-specific benefits critical to their healthy development.
  • Children represent more than 40% of Medicaid enrollees but account for less than 20% of Medicaid spending.

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Children’s Health Insurance Program

  • About 9 million children receive coverage via the CHIP program.
  • CHIP is a federal-state health coverage program that provides health insurance coverage for low-income children and pregnant women with incomes that are too high to qualify for Medicaid.
  • CHIP is designed with children’s needs in mind, including pediatric-specific benefits and cost-sharing protections.

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Children Need Access to Care

Even though most children in the U.S. have insurance coverage, access to care continues to be an issue. The population of kids in the U.S. is growing, but the number of pediatric providers is holding steady, or in the case of some pediatric specialties, decreasing.

Behavioral Health for Kids and Teens

According to the CDC, 1 in 5 children experience a mental health condition annually. Through September of 2021, mental health visits to children’s hospitals emergency rooms were nearly 50% higher than 5 years ago. Similarly, cases of suicide and self-injury cases for children 5-18 years tripled in the same 5 year period. Source: Analysis of Children’s Hospital Association PHIS database, n=38 children’s hospitals.

Our kids and teens face a mental health crisis.

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Access to Pediatricians and Specialists 

Fewer physicians but more kids means longer wait times. Children’s hospitals typically aim for clinic wait lists to be no longer than two weeks. But in certain specialties experiencing shortages, the wait time is much longer. For instance, the average wait time to see a pediatric neurologist is almost nine weeks.

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Drug Costs and Shortages

  • Ensuring access to necessary and lifesaving medicines, as well as vaccines, is critical to the health and well-being of our nation’s children.
  • In recent years, drug costs and shortages have become all too common in the U.S., reaching unprecedented levels.
  • This a complex problem with a lot of factors to consider. Today’s lawmakers are working to understand market factors that may play a role.

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