Medicaid is the largest health care program in the country, covering about one in five Americans, including nearly half of all American children. For those enrolled today – and those who may need it tomorrow – Medicaid is an essential safety net. That’s just one of the reasons why 9 in 10 Americans say it’s important to keep the program strong and sustainable.
For the nearly 40 million children enrolled, including those with special health care needs, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provide high-quality health care that leads to improved health outcomes and, as studies show, a brighter future.
Fast Facts about Medicaid and Children’s Health
- As of July 2021, over 39 million children were enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP, representing 48% of total enrollment for the programs.
- Medicaid and CHIP serve over one-third of all children under the age of 19 in the United States, and 45% of children under age six.
- 7 in 10 low-income children are covered by Medicaid nationwide.
- Medicaid covers almost half of children with special health care needs, and plays a significant role in providing them the long-term services and supports (LTSS) they need to live at home with their families.
- Children enrolled in CHIP receive the preventive and medical care they need:
- 95% had a well visit in the past year.
- 84% had a dental exam or cleaning in the past year.
- Enrolled children were four times more likely to have a usual source of care, compared to children with no health coverage, and were also two to three times more likely to receive preventive care services.
Providing Critical Services for Children
From pre-natal care through birth, Medicaid helps ensure a healthy start for millions of children, covering over half of all births in the United States. Medicaid goes on to provide enrolled children with recommended health services through the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) benefit. Through the EPSDT benefit, Medicaid delivers access to quality preventive, dental, mental health, developmental, and specialty care for children and adolescents. Additionally, children receive diagnostic and treatment care for vision and hearing complications, including glasses and hearing aids.
Available screening services for children enrolled in Medicaid include a physical exam, laboratory tests, health education, and immunization.
Medicaid also covers all vaccines recommended for children by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Vaccines for Children Program provides vaccines at no cost for children under 18 who are enrolled in Medicaid, are uninsured or underinsured, or who are American Indian or Alaska Native. As the primary payer for Home and Community Based Services, Medicaid ensures children with special health care needs or disabilities can receive care comfortably at home.
Promoting Quality and Innovation
In 40 states and the District of Columbia, Medicaid agencies work with Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) to coordinate care, drive quality, and increase the effectiveness of their Medicaid programs. In almost all of those states, most eligible children are enrolled in MCOs.
Across the country, Medicaid MCOs help improve outcomes and advance health equity by detecting and preventing the progression of chronic diseases, coordinating services across the continuum of care, and delivering programs targeted to children’s needs.
Improving Children’s Health Outcomes
Research shows that children with Medicaid coverage have significantly better access to care than children without insurance, and that their coverage is comparable to children with private insurance. Medicaid is also proven to lead to improved health outcomes for children, including reduced avoidable hospitalizations and child mortality.
Medicaid’s positive impact on children’s health translates into educational achievement. Studies on the role of Medicaid show that coverage leads to lower high school dropout rates, increased college attendance, and an increase in the number of bachelor’s degrees. Children’s enrollment in Medicaid is also associated with better health in adulthood, highlighting the role of Medicaid throughout the life of enrollees.
Medicaid is critical for the health of low-income children and children with special health care needs. A strong and sustainable Medicaid program is essential for the continued health of children across America.
For more data on Medicaid’s impact on children in all 50 states, visit the Medicaid Dashboard today.