08 September 2007

Numbers Relevant To Children's Health Care

Colorado Medicare:

* 249,000 children are covered by Medicaid (22% of Colorado children)
* 14.3% of Colorado children are uninsured
* 96,860 Medicaid eligible children aren't covered
* 76,104 uninsured children aren't Medicaid eligible
* Medicaid $19,350 income cutoff for a family of four
* Medicaid $25,736 income cutoff for a family of four for preschool children
* $2,036 per child cost of Medicaid coverage (half of which are federal dollars)
* 69% Medicare's reimbursment rate is paid by Medicaid.
* $100 per month approximate cost of individual health insurance for a child with a $2,000 deductible and certain preventative coverage not subject to the deductible.

The Denver Public Schools spend $7,315 of general fund money per student, of whom 64% receive free or reduced price lunches. It's their fault that their parents can or cannot afford health insurance (or think they can't because they don't know the cost).

The $55 million cost of providing health insurance along with free and/or reduced price lunch to every eligible child would cost roughly $100 per resident of Denver per year. It would cost much less per Colorado resident, statewide, as Denver is disproportionately poor. But, some of this money could come out of the Medicaid budget, which is already responsible for providing health care to many of these children, but doesn't do so because of paperwork barriers, leaving Medicaid as a secondary provider -- covering only out of pocket after insurance costs, for many children. This isn't chump change, but it isn't beyond the realm of the possible either.

Indeed, why shouldn't a right to a public education include a right to the good health needed to participate in that education? Perhaps everyone who gets a public education should simply get health insurance as part of the package.

What else flows from this kind of approach:

1. An employer based or payroll tax based system of health insurance works better when it only has to provide for working adults, because different family situations don't has a huge impact on insurance benefit costs.

2. Universal school based health insurance for school aged children would parallel the government funded health care system we have in place for the other largest group of people outside the work force, Medicare retirees. It also parallels the work based insurance system as well, because for school aged children, their "employer" is their school.

3. We are seeing a marriage divide in America. The upper middle class is staying married, while working class families are falling apart. Part of this development may be a product of increasing financial pressures on low income families, who have not shared in income growth over the last generation. By relieving a significant financial pressure on working class families, there may be a significant reduction in the divorce rate, and a significant increase in the marriage rate. It also reduces welfare eligibility incentive for couples to fall apart.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This year, my kids have been without health insurance because of my inability to fill out the CHP+ forms. Yes, that is ridiculous, but I'm mentally ill. Lots of those silly things such as filling out forms to apply for social welfare programs are extremely difficult for me. I now have a full-time job, but I'm not paid well. I couldn't afford the $650 a month to get my kids health insurance through my job because that would take up about a third of my income. Last year, when we had CHP+, they reduced the number of times that kids could visit a dentist to once a year. The dental insurance was always inadequate, but that made it worse. My intention is to apply for CHP+ for next year. I purchased dental and vision insurance for all three of us through my new job. I think the school district likes having us on the reduced and free lunch roster because we skew the CSAP results. My sons earned 6 Advanced scores out of 7 tests (my son missing Proficient on the 7th test by 1 point). I work two jobs because I am tired of being so poor, but I am also exhausted. At least *I* have health insurance this year, which is important because I haven't seen a doctor in 5 years.