While the number of Americans without health insurance has been rising for the past decade, the picture is different in Idaho, where the percentage who lack insurance has stayed roughly the same - except when it comes to children. Far more of Idaho’s children were covered by health insurance in 2008 than in 1999, according to the latest U.S. Census data, with the percentage of uninsured kids dropping from 19.8 percent in 1999 to 8.9 percent last year. The reason: It wasn’t just the start of the Children’s Health Insurance Program in 1997; it was a private foundation’s efforts to promote that program that alerted many Idahoans that their kids qualified for coverage, either through that government program or others. “We saw a huge increase, mostly in regular Medicaid, that’s mostly all children,” said Idaho Health & Welfare spokesman Tom Shanahan; it also happens that children are among the least costly populations to insure.
The U.S. Census data, which comes from the annual Current Population Survey, shows that if children were taken out of the equation, Idaho’s rate of uninsured residents under age 65 stayed about the same from 1999 to 2008, at 21 percent. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.
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