Too Many Children Going Back To School Without Health Coverage

September 10, 2008

The 85,000 Uninsured Minnesota Kids in State is Up 20,000 Since 2001

With school back in session, leading Minnesota health care advocates said that tens of thousands of Minnesota children are missing one of the most important back-to-school supplies: health care coverage.

The advocates include state lawmakers and officials from CDF-Minnesota.

"There are 85,000 children without health coverage in Minnesota -- enough to fill every seat in both the Metrodome in Minneapolis and the Xcel Center in St. Paul, with thousands more standing outside." said CDF Minnesota Director Jim Koppel. "Having coverage is a key indicator of child well-being and an important factor in a child's academic success. Unfortunately, while the country as a whole has reduced its number of uninsured children, Minnesota has not. If we want them to be ready to fully participate in our state's future work force, we need to act now and invest in their health."

More Minnesota Children Are Uninsured

Koppel said that since 2001, the number of uninsured Minnesota children has increased by more than 20,000, according to data released recently by the U.S. Census Bureau.

"Last week, when my three kids grabbed their backpacks filled with new notebooks, pencils, scissors and the many other school supplies they need for a successful school year, they also carried with them something else that will make a huge difference in their school success. Our kids have health insurance." said State Representative Paul Thissen, Chief author of the "Children's Health Security Act," which passed the State House last year. "The unfortunate reality is that too many kids in Minnesota will not live up to their potential because they do not have affordable access to a doctor. We all lose as a result"

The advocates said there are several consequences for uninsured school children:

  • Uninsured children often do not get treatment for childhood illnesses such as sore throats, earaches, and asthma.
  • They go without health services when they need them because their parents cannot afford to pay for treatments.
  • Kids without health coverage are 25 percent more likely to miss school than insured children.