Health care is a bright spot on a somewhat grim snapshot of the well-being of America’s children, according to a study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The Kids Count report (http://www.aecf.org/~/media/Pubs/Initiatives/KIDS%20COUNT/123/2012KIDSCOUNTDataBook/KIDSCOUNT2012DataBookFullReport.pdf), which relies on a trove of data from state and federal agencies, says that children in 2010, the last year for which the data could be processed, faced growing economic distress. The report notes that while the unemployment rates have dropped from about 9.6 percent then to 8.2 percent now, rates of children living in poverty continued to rise since 2010, when 22 percent of children lived in poverty.
Meanwhile, “8 percent of children (5.9 million) lacked health insurance in 2010. That’s a 20 percent improvement from 2008 when 10 percent of children were uninsured.”
Children without insurance are less likely to have a primary care physician and, not surprisingly, less likely to receive care when they need it. “Although the provision of employer-sponsored health insurance is declining and most low-wage and part-time workers lack employer coverage, public health insurance has resulted in a modest increase in health coverage among children over the last decade.”
American Indians and Latino children are much more likely to be uninsured. The rates are 18 percent and 14 percent, respectively.
The study also looks at low-birthweight babies. “Nationally, low-birthweight babies represented 8.2 percent of all live births in 2009, unchanged from 2005. After gradually increasing … the [percentage] of low-birthweight babies has remained relatively stable for the past several years, slightly below the three-decade high reached in 2006 of 8.3 percent.” The top five states for children’s health are Vermont, Massachusetts, Maine, Washington, and New Jersey. The bottom are Nevada, Wyoming, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Montana.