For Every Child, We Need Affordable Health Care

For Every Child, We Need Affordable Health Care
2/29/2012 5:32:10 PM
I am often drawn to work on health issues that meet two criteria: they are preventable, and represent an area where we as a state can do better. Not all child health challenges can be prevented, but many can—and this leads to savings in our health system.

Now, for many years, Texas has had the nation's highest rate of children without health insurance. This negatively impacts their ability to access important preventive care. New numbers also show that Texans are among the least likely to be insured through their work. Photo courtesy: Neighborhood Centers of Houston

But we know that children with health insurance are:
  • More likely to receive routine preventive care,
  • Remain healthier,
  • And less likely to make costly visits to the emergency room.
That is why the Affordable Care Act is so important for Texas kids, in particular. An important provision in the law will allow working Texas families with incomes less than four times the poverty level to receive support to make health care more affordable (for example, that would be parents earning $88,400 a year with two kids).

In 2014, these working Texas families will be able to buy private health insurance through a new health insurance online marketplace called an exchange. There will be a sliding-scale to help with premiums. Currently, purchasing private health insurance is cost-prohibitive for many of these Texas families, costing as much as $14,000 per year. This is an opportunity to get kids covered, without spending new state budget dollars to do it.

Instead of shifting the cost to the emergency room, and ultimately other consumers’ premiums, the Affordable Care Act allows us to invest in better outcomes. Helping families cover kids lays the foundation for prevention, and this is an area where all the data tells us Texas can do better . . . a lot better.

Note: This post is adapted from my remarks prepared for a Texas House hearing this week on the Affordable Care Act. To see more from the hearing, check out this blog post from the statewide campaign we help lead, Texas Well and Healthy.

 

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