September 28, 2020

Number and Percentage of Children Without Health Insurance Jump in Annual Report Prior to Coronavirus Crisis

Both the total number (4.4 million) and the share (6%) of children in the United States who did not have health insurance ticked upward in 2019, according to the latest numbers from the American Community Survey.

The figures, important in and of themselves, take on added significance because they do not take into account the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Data are likely to worsen in the coming year.

The trends were felt by every racial and ethnic group, with numbers rising across all demographics and percentage increases seen for several. The changes were most pronounced for children of color, particularly Hispanic or Latino children. Some 190,000 more Latino kids lacked health insurance in 2019 than in 2018, taking the total number of uninsured children in that group to 1,805,000 (9%). The number of Latino children without insurance has steadily risen for the past three years.

American Indian kids were most likely to be uninsured, with 14% lacking access to health care in 2019, up from 13% in 2018. The share for Black children (5%) rose one percentage point between 2018 and 2019, while rates for Asian and Pacific Islander and white children, and for children of two or more races, were all unchanged (4% for each group in both 2018 and 2019).

Across the states, Wyoming, Texas, South Dakota and North Dakota saw the largest percentage increases of uninsured children. Texas experienced the largest increase in the number of uninsured children in 2019, with 122,000 more children uninsured — a troubling figure considering that Texas will emerge in 2020 as one of the states hit hardest by COVID-19. A total of 24 states and Puerto Rico saw increases in child uninsured rates, while only three (Alabama, Georgia and Idaho) experienced decreases.

The rise in the number of children without insurance came as fewer families accessed public health programs, such as Medicaid, Medicare, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) or coverage through Veterans Affairs.