Area experts talk decline in Missouri children with health insurance

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JOPLIN, Mo.–Kids in the state of Missouri are losing their health insurance at a steady rate over the last two years.

A Georgetown University report shows the percentage of kids losing access to health insurance in Missouri has risen almost 17% between over the last two years. Researchers say that’s due in large part to a decline in public insurance coverage.

“They tend to go to the E.R., which is a higher visit fee,” explained pediatrician Dr. Tavares Williams. “Also, so that’s a more drain on healthcare dollars and also, with that being said too, it must be understood that if you’re not going to use your insurance, then that gives government entities and insurance the thought that you don’t need it”

And, Williams says that could cause a cycle to occur within families for years to come.

“We tend to do things that we see in our families, so if families don’t go to the doctor , more than likely, that starts a trend that with their kids when they have their family, they’re more than likely to not take their kids because they feel there’s no need,” Williams added.

Steven Douglas with Access Family Care says providing healthcare for people who didn’t have it was among the driving forces starting Access Family Healthcare in the first place.

“Our organization was formed by the directors of the health departments in Barry, Newton and McDonald County because there was a need for kids and young people to have healthcare,” Douglas explained. “And there were some ladies that had a vision some 20 years ago to form our organization, and that’s exactly why we came into being for this need.”

Douglas says the organization works on a sliding financial scale.

“And if you have x amount of income and there are so many people lining in your house, we’ll offer you a discount to our services and it’s very affordable for somebody, particularly if you’re not having much income or if you’re like the working poor,” said Douglas. “That’s the clientele we really try and serve.”

The study found that both Missouri and Oklahoma area tied for 37th in the state with the highest amount of uninsured kids, followed by Kansas at 23rd and Arkansas at 21st. Of those states, the highest race or ethnicity without coverage for kids is Native American.

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