Voices’ Blog

Parents in Virginia would benefit from closing the health insurance coverage gap

Posted:  -  By: Ashley Airington

While the U.S. has made significant progress in decreasing the rate of uninsurance for adults, many low-income working parents and families in Virginia still struggle to obtain health insurance coverage. In fact, there are estimated 400,000 uninsured adults, many of whom are parents in the health insurance “coverage gap,” meaning that their incomes are too high to qualify for Medicaid but but too low to afford insurance on the federal exchange.

The 2016 General Assembly session begins tomorrow, and once again, policymakers have the opportunity to close the health insurance coverage gap. As child advocates, we think it’s important for policymakers to understand the great extent to which this decision affects parent, families and their children.  To explore this, we teamed up with The Commonwealth Institute and Georgetown University Center for Children and Families to co-release a paper, “Many Working Parents and Families in Virginia Would Benefit from Medicaid Coverage.” Key findings include:

  • 29% of adults in the health insurance coverage gap are parents with dependent children living at home.
  • More than 2/3 of these parents work outside the home, primarily in the retail, restaurant, construction or medical sectors.
  • Most of the families have one or two children (72%), are white (53%), and have school aged children (63%).

When know  parents are uninsured, their ability to care for their children and provide financially for their basic needs can be comprised by either a chronic medical condition or a catastrophic event. We also know that when parents have health insurance, they are more likely to obtain health insurance for their kids AND take them to the doctor for preventive care and treatment when they’re sick.

Further, the rate of uninsured children is linked to the rate of uninsured parents – and Virginia’s child uninsurance rate is moving in the wrong direction. While many other states saw decreases in the rate of uninsured kids, Virginia’s rate worsened. There are more than 107,000 children in Virginia who are uninsured.

As the  General Assembly faces a decision about whether to draw down federal funds to provide insurance through the Affordable Care Act to adults in the coverage gap, we hope this report can shed light on a sizeable portion of those who would stand to benefit from such insurance— low-income, working parents and their dependent children.





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