9 Million Kids Have No Health Insurance

July 19, 2006

This is an issue dear to my heart. (I did sign the petition.) Growing up, sometimes we did go without health insurance — this was pre-portability laws — and it was stressful. I feel for the parents of these children, too. -Elisa

Cross-posted on Kos last week

When you think of the uninsured in America, what image comes to mind? Is this the face you think of?

If it’s not, you’re not alone: In a recent survey sponsored by the Catholic Health Association on public attitudes about the uninsured, only 13% of respondents thought first of children as the group most likely to be uninsured. In fact, 20% (approximately 1 in 5) of the 46 million uninsured Americans are children. That means more than 9 million children have no health insurance. This means that millions of children in America can’t see a doctor on a regular basis, can’t afford prescription drugs, and can’t get preventive care, among other services. They are less likely to do well in school, and more likely to encounter problems with their social and emotional development.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Make the jump to learn more about why we must cover all kids and to see what you can do about it.
Recognizing that something must be done about this crisis, a group of national organizations–including Families USA–has launched the Campaign for Children’s Health Care, a multi-year effort dedicated to making high-quality, affordable health insurance for all of America’s children a top national priority. The campaign’s immediate goal is to raise awareness about the problem of uninsured children in America. As part of our launch, we’ve started an online petition drive. We want to collect an impressive number of signatures that we will then present to Congress and the President next year. Here’s the petition:

To Congress and the President:

More than 9 million children lack health insurance, and millions more have inadequate coverage in this, the wealthiest nation in the world. We must make providing health coverage for all children a national priority. Investing in children’s health yields many benefits, including improved development and health, improved school performance, and long-term savings in health care costs.

We therefore call on the President and Congress to begin work immediately on legislation that will provide comprehensive, affordable, high-quality health coverage for all children.

Click here to sign the petition

Why focus on children’s healthcare? Aside from the moral imperative, there are a number of good reasons:

  • Children with insurance are more likely to have a usual source of care (medical provider a person sees regularly for primary care)

  • Children with insurance are more likely to have access to preventive care, including immunizations, hearing and vision screenings, monitoring a child’s growth and development, and answering parents’ questions about their child’s health.

  • Children with insurance get the health care services they need. Kids without insurance often go without dental and vision care, as well as prescription drugs, mental health services, and other kinds of important health care

  • Insuring children will help close the racial disparities gap. Nearly one in five Hispanic children and one in seven African American children are uninsured, compared to about one in 13 white children.

  • Health insurance helps improve social and emotional development.

  • Insured children are better equipped to do well in school.

As parents, you must surely know what it’s like to have a sick child who needs healthcare. Has your child ever gone without healthcare because of lack of insurance? Or, has your child ever had a health condition for which having insurance made all the difference between receiving treatment and not? If so, we invite you to share your story here, and to add your story to our children’s health care story bank.  

We’ll have more updates on the Campaign as it unfolds. In the meantime, remember to sign the petition and to find other ways to get the word out on this issue.