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Missouri Rate Of Uninsured Children Tops National Average

Kids play on a playground. The Buddy Pack program sends kids in 32 Missouri counties home with a backpack of nutritious food each weekend, but the program is facing the challenges of rising food and fuel costs.
File photo
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KBIA
Kids play on a playground. The Buddy Pack program sends kids in 32 Missouri counties home with a backpack of nutritious food each weekend, but the program is facing the challenges of rising food and fuel costs.

Missouri has one of the highest rates of uninsured children in the country, and the number is growing, according to a new report.

The Georgetown University report found an estimated 83,000 children were uninsured in 2018: 21,000 more than in 2016.

The rate of uninsured children has increased nationally, but with 5.7 percent of Missouri children uninsured, the state is above the national average.

Georgetown professor Joan Alker was the lead author on the report and said Missouri is part of a group of states that have seen the biggest increases in uninsured children. "States that have not expanded Medicaid to parents and other adults under the ACA saw an increase in their rate of uninsured kids that was three times as large as states that have," Alker said. 

The report said it’s unusual for the number of uninsured children to increase during economic growth.

According to Alker, in the 10 years Georgetown has published this report, it has never seen increases in the uninsured rate on this scale at the state level.

In a statement, the Missouri Budget Project's Research Director Lindsey Baker raised concerns about the report's findings. "The census data included in the report may not fully reflect the extent of children’s coverage loss. The recently released Census data is self-report. But many families who have lost Medicaid and CHIP coverage only found out when they saw a doctor or tried to refill a medication. If they were unaware that coverage had been terminated, they wouldn’t report being uninsured."

Texas had the highest overall rate of uninsured children in the country.

Sebastián Martínez Valdivia was a health reporter at KBIA and is documentary filmmaker who focuses on access to care in rural and immigrant communities. A native Spanish speaker and lifelong Missouri resident, Sebastián is interested in the often overlooked and under-covered world of immigrant life in the rural midwest. He has a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Missouri and a master's degree in documentary journalism at the same institution. Aside from public health, his other interests include conservation, climate change and ecology.
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