Study Shows Healthcare Coverage Decline For Houston Children

An eight-year study conducted by Texas Children's Hospital shows health coverage for children in the Houston Area has dropped significantly as a result of the recession. More kids are getting insurance through state and federal programs.

The study looked at 2,800 families with at least one child under the age of 19. It shows that work-based coverage for dependents dropped from 74 percent in 2008 to 57.8 percent this year.

Dr. Angelo Giardino is the chief medical officer for Texas Children's Health Plan. He says that 16 percent drop means 400,000 children in the 13-county region lost medical coverage.

"It's really, I guess, not surprising that an economy as challenging as we're seeing would have an impact on kids and families in the Houston-Harris County area. As the parents have obviously had some difficulty with work and obviously are out of work, so they can't provide their children insurance through the workplace, which is typical."

Giardino says one interesting result of the loss in workplace coverage is that during the same time period the number of
children enrolled in CHIP and Medicaid doubled.

"The Medicaid program and the CHIP program have essentially done what they're supposed to — they're supposed to be the safety net. They're supposed to be the programs that we as a community support so that, when families hit hard times, the kids' health can be made a priority and we can at least help the kids maintain their health through healthcare coverage during that dry spot."

Giardino says about 35,000 children in the Houston region don't have any health insurance at all. But he says overall the study's findings are encouraging, because they show Houston is doing a good job of connecting families with the resources they need.

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Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...