As President Bush, governors and members of Congress debate how much federal funding to devote to childrenâs health insurance programs administered by the states, a new analysis provides a clearer look at uninsured children in Colorado and nationwide. The analysis, released today by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, shows that since 1997, employer offers of health insurance to parents with modest incomes have fallen three times as fast as offers to parents who earn more money.
The figures underscore that working parents who earn modest incomes are experiencing dramatic erosion in employee benefits. Nationally, fewer than half (47 percent) of parents in families earning less than $40,000 a year are offered health insurance through their employer â a nine percent drop since 1997. Meanwhile, offers of health insurance to parents who earn $80,000 or more have held steady at about 78 percent.
The analysis shows two out of three uninsured kids in Colorado (65 percent) live with adults who earn modest incomes, calculated at $40,000 or less for a family of four. Many of these uninsured children would likely be eligible for free or low-cost insurance coverage through the State Childrenâs Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) â called Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+) in Colorado â which Congress is set to reauthorize this year. Signed into law in 1997, SCHIP provides each state with federal funds to design a health insurance program for vulnerable children. The states each determine eligibility rules, benefit packages and payment levels.
âIn reauthorizing SCHIP, Congress must provide the funds needed to maintain coverage for all currently enrolled kids and the millions more who are eligible but remain unenrolled. We must ensure that children whose parents work hard but cannot afford health insurance for their kids can get the health care they need to thrive,â said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. âFor the last decade, SCHIP has provided a much-needed safety net for our nationâs kids, especially as there has been a decline in the number of children in low-income families covered by employer-sponsored health insurance. Parents realize that providing health insurance for their children is becoming more costly and those who earn modest wages are doubly squeezed. They are less likely to be offered insurance on the job, and less able to afford to purchase it on their own.â
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