Investing in the health of all children makes sense. Healthy children are more likely to do well in school, receive less costly care sooner, have more productive lives and suffer fewer lifelong health problems.

Overview

The number of children without health coverage is growing rapidly due to families losing employer-based insurance in the economic downturn, the ballooning cost of coverage making it unaffordable for families, and the state budget deficit reductions in public programs.

Children who lack health insurance are less likely to receive routine preventive and specialist care, more likely to be  treated in an emergency room and less likely to have problems identified early. By the time they seek care, the problem is often more serious and more costly. An emergency room visit costs 3 times as much as a regular doctor’s visit. Many families cannot afford even the cost of these ER visits.

In Marin, nearly 100% of children have health insurance.  29% of children (approximately 15,000) are insured under public programs (MediCal and Healthy Families) or the local Children’s Health Initiative. The current budget crisis could impact availability of these insurance programs for some children.

While most children have access to excellent care in Marin, low-cost health care providers are reaching capacity as more children become uninsured or under-insured.

The 2009 California Health Information Survey found 12.5% of children in Marin (about 6,500) had not seen a dentist in the past year or had never seen a dentist. (CHIS, 2009)   82% of Latino and 90% of White children had a dental visit. Availability of low-cost dental care has increased since 2009, but still few providers accept MediCal coverage.

The rate of kindergarteners in Marin with all required immunizations has steadily fallen from 86.9% in 2005 to 82.7% in 2011.   Marin’s immunization rate is significantly lower than the state rate of 90.7%. (Kidsdata.org)  The decline in immunizations in Marin is correlated with the rise in families opting out of immunizations due to personal beliefs (up to 7% of children) rather than lack of access to regular preventive care.