Fewer Utah children are going without health insurance now than in 2008, the first full year of the Great Recession.
The uninsured rate for children fell to 9.8 percent in 2012 from 12.4 percent in 2008, according to an analysis of census data by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. That’s still higher than the national rate for kids of 7.5 percent, which is also dropping.
But the push for near-universal coverage under the Affordable Care Act, which took full effect in January, is bound to accelerate the trend.
The health law’s protections apply more to adults than children. But research has shown that adults are more likely to sign up their kids for government-subsidized coverage — whether through tax credits or the low-income health program Medicaid — if they, too, are eligible.
“This report provides an important baseline for measuring the effects of the Affordable Care Act on uninsured children over time and across states,” said Lynn Blewett, director of the State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC), which compiled the report.
The decline in Utah’s uninsured rate may reflect an improving job market.
But it also speaks to a growing gap between the haves and have-nots. That’s because the percent of Utah kids on private insurance fell 3 percent from 2008 to 2012, while the percent on public programs grew 43 percent.
Minority children, notably Latinos, saw the biggest gains in coverage. In 2012, 25 percent of Latino children in Utah were uninsured, down from 34 percent in 2008.