A new report from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families says that's a 13.2 percent drop in the number of uninsured children in just one year.
Marquita Little, health policy director for Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, says the change is in large part due to entire families enrolling for coverage. "One of the things that stands out in the report is when you look at the drops in uninsured children, you see that number is even larger for states that expanded Medicaid coverage to more adults," she says. "So we're seeing more kids getting access to coverage due to what we call the welcome-mat effect. When their caregivers or parents sign up, they're also signing up those kids for coverage as well."
Thanks to improvements in the health coverage system in Arkansas, including the state's children's health insurance program ARKids and Medicaid, families have more options than ever. But despite the gains, many are still not aware of what's available.
According to Little, more than 95 percent of Arkansas children are now insured.
Report co-author Joan Alker, executive director at the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute Center for Children and Families, says the study shows a distinction between rural and urban areas. "Rural areas have higher rates of uninsured children than urban areas, and interestingly it's not the poorest children with the highest rate of uninsurance," she says. "It's that group just above poverty, the low-wage working families that have the highest rate of uninsured kids."Alker says while the Affordable Care Act remains controversial in some places, where there has been bipartisan support in a state, children have greatly benefited.