The number of insured children in Illinois is on the rise,
according to new data released by the U.S. Census Bureau.
In 2007-2008, 6.5 percent of the state's children were uninsured,
compared with 8.1 percent in 2006-2007 and 10.5 percent
The trend can be attributed to the
state's All Kids health insurance program, according
to an analysis by Voices for Illinois Children, an organization
that works with families, communities and policy makers to ensure
the well being of all Illinois children.
"This is a very, very promising
development that we've seen the numbers change at the level they
have," says Kathy Ryg, president of Voices for Children.
All Kids was first developed in 2006
to provide health insurance for children on a sliding scale based
on income. More than half of the state's uninsured children come
from working and middle class families, according to the All Kids
Web site, which is why the program strives to offer lower rates
than the private market. A family of four that makes between
$42,000 and $63,000 a year, for instance, would pay a $40 monthly
premium for each child and a $10 doctor visit co-pay.
"There's an opportunity for every
child to qualify for a form of health insurance," Ryg says of All
While Ryg is encouraged by the
increase in Illinois children who have some type of health
insurance, she hopes more awareness will bring the number closer to
100 percent. With unemployment rates on the rise, more families may
lose employment-based coverage, making awareness even more
The application is a simple, one-step process,
which parents can access at www.allkids.com, community health
centers and many school health centers, Ryg says. But after this
first step, families can still have difficulty finding care. "One
of the challenges is that while we can enroll the children pretty
easily through a one-stop-shop application to participate, access
to the doctors who participate is a challenge," she says. "There's
definitely work to be done."
Still, Ryg says the program is a
positive step in increasing coverage, which translates to cost
savings for everyone. With programs like All Kids, children receive
early screening and prevention and parents don't have to put off
doctor visits until it is an emergency, Ryg says. "That reduces the
health care costs for all of us."
See more of Laura's stories here.
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