A University of Iowa study finds tens of thousands of Iowa children are going without health insurance. The information was gathered in the year 2000 by the U-of-I’s Public Policy Center where Dr. Peter Damiano is director of health policy research. Damiano says six-percent of Iowa’s children were uninsured at the time the survey was done, or about 45-thousand kids, and another six-percent had been uninsured at some point during the year. He says this is the first comprehensive attempt statewide to evaluate the status of health insurance for children, so there are no previous years by which to compare the numbers on a proper scale. He says national studies indicate the number of insured children has not changed since the 2000 data was collected. Damiano says it’s very discouraging that 90-thousand Iowa children had no coverage. Damiano says Iowa has one of the lowest rates in the nation of uninsured children. A U.S. Census Bureau survey showed Iowa’s rate of uninsured children is about half the national average and the fifth lowest among all states. While there are several programs available that would provide health insurance for low-income children, he says many families just don’t take advantage of the programs. The study found 80-percent of the uninsured Iowa children were eligible for either Medicaid or HAWK-I, but didn’t take advantage of them. Damiano, who’s also a U-of-I dentistry professor, says some parents simply didn’t know about the programs while others didn’t want to associate themselves with anything that might be considered welfare. HAWK-I, or Healthy and Well Kids in Iowa, is a state/federal program that provides insurance to children in low-income families. Six out of ten uninsured children lived in families with household incomes of less than five-thousand dollars a year. The full report “Health Insurance Coverage of Children in Iowa” is available online at “http://ppc.uiowa.edu/health/iowachild2000/index.html”.
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