Not all kids in ‘All Kids’

The news: In January, the U.S. Senate approved a measure that would expand the State Children’s Health Insurance Program to insure an additional 4.1 million children.

Behind the news: More than two years after its launch, Illinois’ All Kids health insurance program is covering about 1.4 million children, according to the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. But census figures show an additional 210,000 children under 18 remained uninsured in 2007, the latest year for which the data are available.

The state program, which covers children under 19, costs about $2.4 billion per year, at an average of about $1,700 per child, according to Annie Thompson, spokesperson for the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. This means that, if the state were to extend the program to the 210,000 children, it would cost at least an additional $357 million per year.

Robyn Gabel, executive director for the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition, said extending coverage to all children in Illinois is a financially attainable goal.

“Children are the healthiest population,” she said. “Most of their services are preventive. Covering all kids is a smart, fiscally responsible action.”

Thompson said her department plans to conduct a study to determine the number of uninsured children.

“Even one [un]insured child is too many, and the department will not rest until all parents in Illinois know how to register their children for affordable, quality healthcare,” Thompson said.

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