Today the U.S. Census Bureau released data showing another year marked by a troubling trend: the number of uninsured children in America is increasing. After decades of hard-fought progress bringing the rate of uninsured children to an historic low, today the Census Bureau reported that an estimated 5.7 percent of children under age 19 were uninsured in 2019—an increase of 320,000 more children without health insurance since 2018. This is the third year in a row the number of uninsured children has grown. The data also highlights continued and worsening disparities in health insurance coverage. The rates of uninsured children were especially high among Hispanic children, undocumented children, children living in the South, and children in families with lower incomes, and these children were among those that experienced some of the greatest increases in uninsured rates between 2018 and 2019.
Unfortunately, this is far from surprising given the Trump administration’s sustained efforts to undermine Medicaid and CHIP, which form the backbone of coverage for children in this country, and the administration’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies which have led many families to remove their eligible children—many of them U.S. citizens—from the health coverage they need out of fear of repercussions.
This data also confirms what we feared: millions of children and families lacked health insurance even before the COVID-19 crisis hit. And we know loss of health insurance has only worsened in recent months, as high unemployment rates mean many families are losing access to job-based health insurance. While fortunately, some of these children may be eligible for Medicaid and CHIP, which are seeing increases in enrollment since the start of the pandemic, it is all but certain that many of them are going uninsured.
We believe all children in America should have access to health and mental health coverage and care that is comprehensive, affordable, and easy to get and keep regardless of income, zip code, place of birth, or immigration status. This latest data on uninsured children in 2019 highlights that we are failing to live up to that standard, and that this Administration’s relentless assault on children and families has real and harmful impacts on the youngest and most vulnerable among us. We’ll have some additional analysis of this data and state by state estimates when they’re released later this week.