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Number of children needing state-sponsored health insurance grows

October 21, 2003
By: Megan Clarke
State Capital Bureau

U.S. Census Bureau reports more Missourians are without health insurance. While some adults are struggling to pay for insurance, many parents are faced with the problem of covering themselves and their children. Megan Clarke has the story.

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The U.S. Census reports a little more than 11 percent of Missourians are without health insurance. That's up one percent from 2001.

Included in those statistics are the 5 percent of Missouri children who are uninsured.

A Missouri state program is trying to keep that number down while the number of applicants continues to grow. The state managed care program, MC-plus for kids, has seen more low-income children applying for health insurance in the last year.

The number of children in the program has increased 18 percent, with 76,000 more in the MC-Plus program than last year.

Director of the Division of Medical Services, Christine Rackers, says there are a lot reasons for the increase.

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I DON'T THINK YOU CAN POINT TO ONE PARTICULAR FACTOR. I DO THINK THE CHANGES IN THE ECONOMY AND CHANGES IN THE EMPLOYMENT OF PARENTS ARE SUBSTANTIAL FACTORS.

According to the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, Missouri leads the nation with more than 70,000 jobs lost last year.

Rackers says because of tight family budgets, there are instances where children in low-income families have health insurance, but their parents do not.

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WE DO HAVE PARENTS THAT DON'T HAVE INSURANCE ON THEMSELVES OR THEIR EMPLOYERS MAY NOT OFFER IT OR ARE FARMERS OR INDIVIDUALS THAT DON'T HAVE HEALTH CARE FOR THEMSELVES. THAT WILL AVAIL THEMSELVES TO THIS PROGRAM SO THEIR CHILDREN MAY BE COVERED AND GET PREVENTIVE CARE AND HAVE A MEDICAL HOME.

The program is run by the Missouri Department of Social Services. The cost of the program is based on income where families will pay no more than 5 percent of their annual income for their child's insurance premiums.

For more information on the MC-Plus program for Kids, contact the Missouri Department of Social Services.