U.S. Has 8.6 Million Uninsured Children and the Economic Downturn Is Likely to Drive the Number Higher

For Immediate Release

Families USA

Dave Lemmon, Director of Communications
Geraldine Henrich-Koenis, Deputy Director of Communications
Robert Meissner, Press Secretary 202-628-3030

U.S. Has 8.6 Million Uninsured Children and the Economic Downturn Is Likely to Drive the Number Higher

New Families USA Report with State Specific Information Highlights That More than One Child in Nine is Uninsured

WASHINGTON - There are 8.6 million uninsured children in the United States,
according to a new report released today by Families USA, the national
organization for health care consumers.

The report, based on new Census Bureau data, reflects the three-year
period 2005-2007 and therefore does not reflect the worsening economic
situation in 2008.

The Families USA report, titled "Left Behind: America's Uninsured
Children," spotlights the following facts about the 8.6 million
uninsured children in the United States:

  • One in nine children in America is uninsured.
  • Uninsured children come from working families. The vast
    majority of uninsured children (88.2 percent) come from families where
    at least one parent works, and more than two-thirds of uninsured
    children-or 68.5 percent-live in households where at least one family
    member works full-time, year-round.
  • More than half, or 60.4 percent, of the nation's uninsured
    children come from low-income families (families with incomes below
    twice the poverty level, or $35,200 for a family of three in 2008) who
    are likely eligible for Medicaid or CHIP.
  • The five states with the largest number of uninsured children
    are Texas, California, Florida, New York, and Georgia. Together, the
    uninsured children in these five states account for nearly half of all
    uninsured children in the country (48.3 percent).
  • The five states with the highest rates of uninsured children
    are Texas, Florida, New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada. More than 15
    percent of children in each of these states are uninsured, compared to
    a national median of 9.2 percent.

Last year, the Congress voted to reauthorize the State Children's
Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which would have expanded health
coverage throughout the nation to approximately 4 million uninsured
children. Although Congress passed the legislation with broad
bipartisan support, the legislation failed when President Bush vetoed

"The children's health legislation vetoed by the President would
have provided much-needed relief to uninsured children across the
nation," said Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA. The CHIP
program is now scheduled to expire on March 31, 2009. As a result, the
reauthorization of CHIP will be one of the earliest policy issues
facing the next Congress and President.  

"For the numerous children who count on CHIP as their health
lifeline and for the 8.6 million children who are uninsured, support
for continuing and expanding CHIP is critically important," said
Pollack. "It will determine whether children get the preventive care
they need so that they can remain healthy, learn in school, and become
productive citizens."

Due to the current economic downturn, Congress is also likely to
consider providing higher federal matching funds to the states for the
Medicaid program-the other key health safety net program for children
from low-income families. Such a measure may be part of the next
economic stimulus package debated in Congress, thereby enabling states
to retain and expand health coverage as more families become uninsured.

"As state budgets are becoming increasingly precarious due to the
looming recession, this is exactly the time that states need an
increase in funding," said Pollack. "This measure would help not only
those already uninsured but those who are likely to join the ranks of
the uninsured due to the state of the economy."


Families USA is the national organization for health care consumers. It is nonprofit and nonpartisan and advocates for high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans.

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