After hitting a historically low rate in 2016, the number of uninsured children has gradually grown to eliminate progress made in the country. Ohio, alone, had a double-digit jump in the three-year study.

Susan TebbenSusan Tebben is an award-winning journalist with a decade of experience covering Ohio news, including courts and crime, Appalachian social issues, government, education, diversity and culture. She has worked for The Newark Advocate, The Glasgow Daily Times, The Athens Messenger, and WOUB Public Media. She has also had work featured on National Public Radio.

Nationally, the rate of children not covered by medical insurance was down to 4.7% in 2016, but started to increase again the year after, according to a new study by Georgetown University Health Policy Institute’s Center for Children and Families.

In 2019, the rate had jumped to 5.7%, an increase of 726,000 more children since the Trump Administration took office in 2016, the study showed.

“Much of the gain in coverage that children made as a consequence of the Affordable Care Act’s major coverage expansions implemented in 2014 has now been eliminated,” the study noted in its key findings.

The data was collected from single-year estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey from the three years.

Ohio was one of several states that saw an increase of more than 20,000 uninsured children from 2016 to 2019.

Ohio’s uninsured rate went up 26% from 2016 to 2019. Data from 2019 show 131,000 Ohio children without insurance, up from 104,000 in 2016.

Ohio child health advocates say a lack of health insurance contributes to worse life outcomes, which extend to education and societal shortcomings.

“This damaging trend will have long-term consequences for children and communities across Ohio because without health coverage, children cannot access the care they need to grow and thrive,” said Tracy Najera, executive director of the Children’s Defense Fund Ohio, in response to the study.

The study attributed declines in Medicaid enrollment as the start of the decrease in insured children. Public coverage for children includes Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

The largest national increase in uninsured children, 320,000, came between 2018 and 2019, and represents the largest annual jump in more than a decade, the authors of the study said.

“Moreover, since this data was collected prior to the pandemic, the number of uninsured children is likely considerably higher in 2020, as families have lost their jobs and employer-sponsored insurance, though it is impossible to know yet by precisely how much,” the study stated.

The study comes as some K-12 schools see spikes in COVID-19 rates, and cases in ages 0-19 represent the fifth highest age group in the state, according to state data.

Texas and Florida had the highest rates, representing 41% of the overall increase in child non-coverage, with about 1 million children in Texas lacking health insurance in 2019, and an estimated 343,000 uninsured children in Florida.