When I was a kid, I was younger and scrawnier than everyone else. My older sister, the natural athlete, would race around the neighborhood with the other kids at breakneck speeds. It seemed like they did everything they could to make sure I couldn’t keep up with them. Once, I tried to match them pace-for-pace—me in my old school roller skates, and them sporting their brand new inline rollerblades—but I lost them barely mid-way down the block and then they were gone. I unstrapped my skates and slowly walked home in my stockinged feet, left behind and left out.
It hurts to be left behind and left out—whether it’s roller skating or getting a healthy start in life. Colorado recently celebrated a substantial decline in the number of uninsured children. According to the American Community Survey, the rate dropped to 5.6% in 2014, down from 8.2% in 2013. However, if we look deeper into the numbers, we need to celebrate cautiously—some kids are being left behind.
All Kids Covered, along with the Georgetown Center for Children and Families and the National Council of La Raza, recently highlighted the gains in coverage Hispanic children have experienced, and the gaps that remain. Between 2013 and 2014, 10,000 more Hispanic children in Colorado were covered, a 26% decrease in the rate of uninsured Hispanic kids. However, 9.6% of Hispanic children in Colorado are still uninsured, compared to 4.0% of white children and 1.9% of black children. This means Colorado’s Hispanic children are two to five times as likely to be uninsured as their peers.
Similar trends exist among Hispanic adults nationally. This population is still the most likely to be uninsured across racial and ethnic groups, despite significant gains over the past two years. Fortunately, most of these kids and adults qualify for existing coverage options, mainly through Medicaid, CHP+, or tax credits to purchase private plans on the marketplace. In order to close the gap and enroll more Hispanics in health insurance, we must increase our outreach efforts. One proven strategy is targeting in-person assistance; programs like Servicios de la Raza’s CCARES does this really well across the Denver Metro area. With trusted guidance, we can help all Coloradans enroll in the coverage they qualify for.
It’s important that all kids have access to the benefits that come with having health insurance. Having coverage is associated with better physical, dental, emotional, and mental health in kids, and we don’t want to leave anyone behind in those areas. So, we must continue to look more closely at the data.
Health equity means providing all our children with the opportunity to grow up healthy and strong, which includes quality, affordable health coverage. Colorado should make this commitment wholeheartedly—a new promise to leave no child behind. At least when it comes to coverage, anyway—I’m not sure much can be done about older siblings!