Around 24,000 undocumented children suffer from lack of access to health care in Pennsylvania
Health care is a major concern all over the world. The United States is no exception. Obama’s Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), signed into law March 2010, brought national and international attention to a reality in the U.S.: Health care disparities exist among Americans that in many cases result in lack of access to medical treatment.
Five years after Obamacare became law, the country is still waiting for a ruling of The Supreme Court which could spell the end of the Affordable Care Act in more than 30 states (and for the six million citizens that could potentially lose their access to health care).
But the political controversy of Obamacare is not the only challenge the country is facing in terms of health care. Around 23 percent of the population between 19 and 64 years old (31 million citizens) are victims of an ugly truth: Having an insurance doesn’t mean you are properly covered.
The situation is even worse for undocumented immigrants and their families, especially the children. Around 24,000 children in Pennsylvania are both undocumented and uninsured; 2,908 in Philadelphia County alone, according to “Public citizens for children + youth report.”
They are all excluded from ACA (the marketplace coverage does not extend to individuals who are undocumented) and specific programs like Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) or the “Cover All Kids” expansion.
The report shows that 100 percent of the parents did not seek care for their children because they simply could not afford it. As a result, 91 percent of children received delayed care or were never treated for a serious medical condition. Also 67 percent of parents reported their child was harmed by delaying or foregoing care and in 42 percent of the cases that delaying or foregoing of care negatively affected the children.
Pennsylvania can afford it
According to the “Public citizens for children + youth” report, the state can afford the expansion to cover the 24,000 undocumented kids who lack health coverage.
Based on the experience of other states that cover the undocumented (California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York and Washington), PCCY estimates that about 25 percent of the children would be enrolled in the first year at a cost of $15.4 million. It should be highlighted that in 2014, the annual cost of CHIP coverage per children was $2,568, which is almost the half what a leading Pennsylvania pediatric hospital might spend in uncompensated care, per child, in the same period.