One-quarter of Iowa kids now get their health care coverage from the government. The author of a new report on child health care trends says Iowans “should be thankful their state government is spending money to keep kids healthy.” Charles Bruner of the Iowa Child and Family Policy Center says in the past five years, the number of Iowa children enrolled in Medicaid and the state’s Healthy and Well Kids in Iowa initiative has doubled. “In the past, most of the health care coverage of kids has come through employer-based health coverage where parents work and they get a family health care policy,” Bruner says. But in the past five years, Bruner’s study found the average cost for an employer-provided family health insurance premium rose nearly 50%, at an additional cost either to employers or employees of over three-thousand dollars. As a result, many businesses have dropped coverage, and Bruner says that prompted many parents to enroll their kids in government-paid Medicaid and the state’s HAWK-I program. Bruner says the Medicaid program benefits both employers and families as many business are finding it more and more difficult to afford to provide health care coverage to their workers. Medicaid — government-paid health care insurance — has helped avert a crisis in health care coverage for kids, according to Bruner, because 25 percent of Iowa children are now covered through Medicaid. He says most kids who are covered by Medicaid have parents who are working. Two-thirds of Medicaid recipients in Iowa are kids, but Bruner says they don’t account for much of Medicaid spending. Medicaid also covers people with disabilities and seniors who can’t pay for their nursing home care or other health care needs, like prescription drugs.
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