Florida has reduced the rate of uninsured Hispanic children in the state. Lawmakers have also enhanced access to health care coverage for lawfully residing children of the state. However, the state must do more to enhance children’s access to quality healthcare services given that 143,831 Hispanic children remain uninsured in Florida.
Recent data from the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute Center for Children and Families yields encouraging news about health insurance coverage of Florida’s Hispanic children in the first year of full implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The latest report, Historic Gains in Health Coverage for Hispanic Children in the Affordable Care Act’s First Year, shows that Florida is one of 11 states to see a significant decline in both the number and percentage of uninsured Hispanic children.
From 2013 to 2014, the number of uninsured Hispanic children in Florida fell from 167,917 to 143,831, a decrease of 14 percent. This strong performance is the result of the ACA’s marketplace subsidies.
The ACA offers subsidies to reduce monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs to expand access to affordable health insurance for moderate and low-income individuals and families, particularly those without access to affordable coverage through their employer, Medicaid, or Medicare.
Individuals and families earning between 100 percent ($24,300 for a family of four) and 400 percent ($97,000 for a family of four) of the federal poverty level can get premium subsidies or cost assistance through the marketplace to cover a portion of their healthcare costs.
Although most uninsured Hispanic children were already eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) before the ACA, they were frequently not enrolled. However, many previously uninsured parents became eligible for coverage when the new eligibility rules and enrollment opportunities were introduced in 2014.
As parents enrolled themselves in health insurance, it appears many enrolled their children at the same time.
During the 2016 Legislative Session, the Florida Legislature took significant action to reduce both the rate and number of uninsured children in the state. Florida lawmakers extended coverage under the state’s Kidcare health insurance program for lawfully-residing immigrant children by lifting the five-year waiting period for Medicaid and CHIP (Chapter 2016-65, Laws of Florida).
As of January 2016, 2,374,446 children were enrolled in Kidcare. The new law ensures immediate access to health care coverage for an additional 17,000 children.
The state must take further action to enhance access to quality health care coverage for children of the state. This is particularly true given that in 2014, 12.1 percent of Hispanic children in Florida were uninsured, exceeding the national average of 9.7 percent. Further, Florida ranks 48th out of 50 states for the number of uninsured Hispanic children.
At this time, Florida has chosen not to expand Medicaid to low income uninsured adults. By expanding Medicaid, the state would ensure greater health care access to children of the state. It would also address the disparity in health coverage for Hispanic children.
States who did move forward with Medicaid expansion have seen a 22.6 percent decline in the rate of uninsured Hispanic children unlike non-expansion states which have only seen a 7.6 percent decline.
 Schwartz, Sonya et al. 2016. Historic Gains in Health Coverage for Hispanic Children in the Affordable Care Act’s First Year. http://ccf.georgetown.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/CCF-NCLR-Uninsured-Hispanic-Kids-Report-Final-Jan-14-2016.pdf Georgetown University Health Policy Institute, Center for Children and Families
 Kaiser Family Foundation. 2014. Explaining Healthcare Reform: W=Questions About Health Insurance Subsidies. http://files.kff.org/attachment/explaining-health-care-reform-questions-about-health-insurance-subsidies-issue-brief ,pp1
 Florida Secretary of State. http://laws.flrules.org/2016/65
 Florida House of Representatives. Bill analysis of Committee Substitute for House Bill 89. 2016 Legislative Session. p 3. http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2016/0089/Analyses/h0089e.HHSC.PDF
 Florida Senate. Bill analysis of Senate Bill 248, Medicaid Assistance Funding for Lawfully Residing Children. 2016 Legislative Session. p 8. http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2016/0248/Analyses/2016s0248.ahs.PDF
 Supra note at 1, p 16
 See supra note at 1, pp 5