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Covering Kids: Children's Health Insurance in California

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Covering Kids: Children's Health Insurance in California

Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California and Diringer & Associates

Compared to the nation, more of California's children have public health coverage and fewer have coverage through their parents' work. This Almanac report looks at trends in children's coverage.

November 2012

California's Uninsured Kids

Over the past three years, a decade of advances in California children's public insurance enrollment have stalled. In 2011, slightly more than 1.1 million children in California were uninsured, while coverage in Healthy Families (California's CHIP program) declined slightly as a result of state government funding reductions. Among the key findings in this report:

  • Of California residents age 18 or younger, 56% had private insurance, 38% had Medi-Cal or Healthy Families, and 11% were uninsured in 2011. Some are covered by more than one program.
  • Public coverage through Medi-Cal and Healthy Families expanded 46% from 2002 to 2011, while employer-based coverage declined by 16%.
  • Medi-Cal continues to fill the gap in coverage created by the decline in private insurance. In 2011, almost 3.7 million children were enrolled, up from about 2.6 million in 2001.
  • The state's proportion of children without coverage is higher than the national average and most other states.
  • Over three-quarters of uninsured children in California are eligible for Medi-Cal (including Healthy Families).
  • While Latinos constitute just over half of all children in California, they represent two-thirds of uninsured children.
  • Uninsured children are far more likely than those with coverage to have needed care delayed or to not receive care.
  • Insured children, including those covered by Medi-Cal, are more likely to visit a hospital emergency room than are uninsured children.

The future of children's health coverage remains uncertain although it promises to improve if the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is implemented as planned. In 2014, as many as one million uninsured children may be eligible for Medi-Cal or private coverage through the California Health Benefits Exchange.

The complete report is available under Document Downloads.