Arkansas children lacking health insurance on the rise

Arkansas' rate of children without health insurance is below the national average compared to neighboring states like Texas which exceed the national rate. (Photo: Georgetown University Center for Children and Families)

A new study indicates youth without health insurance across the nation including Arkansas increased from 2016 to 2017.

The report, which was conducted by the Georgetown University Center, shows the number of children under age 19 rose an estimated 276,000 to 3.92 million.

That's a "historic low" of 4.7 percent in 2016 to 5 percent in 2017.

Arkansas' uninsured rate among children increased from 4 to 4.4 percent. That's 30,000 youth in 2016 and 33,000 in 2017.

Tramain Humphrey falls within that statistic. He and his wife are insured but his two kids, ages 1 and 4, are not.

"Because I haven't had the time to sign them up for health insurance. But I'm about to get them singed up with Gerber," Humphrey said.

Plans to enroll the little ones are in the works. Humphrey, like many across the country, is in a financial bind, making it even more difficult to afford health care coverage for the entire family.

"Really, the cost is expensive for us adults especially," Humphrey said.

Lawmakers on the state and federal level continue to address the issue by expanding public programs like Medicaid.

ARKids First was established in 1997 to serve more than 70,000 children for pediatric services.

"We have to be able to do things that gives our children across the state, across the country, a degree of hope," said Al Sliger, chairman of the Community Health Centers of Arkansas.

Community Health Centers of Arkansas works to improve access across the state by going to schools and coordinating with clinics, providing the necessary resources to enroll families.

Sliger noted the wellbeing of children should not be a political game.

"There is nothing political to be gained y denying health care coverage for our children and preventing, restricting their ability to have a fulfilling life."

To view the full study, click here.

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