The demographic surge in five counties north of Dallas includes a growing number of children who lack health insurance, according to the 2012 edition of the Children’s annual Beyond ABC report. The report will be released today at a community symposium moderated by Texas state Sen. Florence Shapiro. The report provides reliable data about the health and welfare of area children. It is the second edition focused specifically on five North Texas counties: Collin, Cooke, Denton, Grayson and Fannin.
Alarming Numbers of Uninsured Children
While the population trends in North Texas have created pockets of prosperity, Beyond ABC: Assessing Children’s Health in the North Texas Corridor shows increased demand for basic child health services. Some 453,403 children now live in the five counties – an 8 percent increase since the last survey of the area in 2010. And all five counties have at least twice the national average of uninsured children, including Cooke County at 23.9 percent and Grayson at 19.1 percent.
“One of the things we want to emphasize is that this trend is not just about North Texas, or even the state,’’ said Christopher J. Durovich, president and chief executive officer of Children’s Medical Center.
One in nine U.S. children now lives in Texas, so what happens here is important for the entire nation. An alarming number of those children lack medical coverage for even routine care.”
Medicaid Enrollment Surging
Among the report’s more surprising findings: Collin County had a 69 percent increase in pediatric Medicaid enrollment between 2008 and 2011, while Denton County had a 76 percent increase.
But while Medicaid enrollment has ballooned, the percentage of Texas physicians accepting new Medicaid patients has dropped from 42 percent in 2010 to just 31 percent in 2012, according to a survey by the Texas Medical Association.
Poverty, Health Problems on the Rise
Beyond ABC also looks at other indicators of child health and well-being. It found that 8.5 percent of children in North Texas live in poverty, defined as an annual household income of $23,050 for a family of four. In Collin County, the number of children living in poverty doubled between 2000 and 2010.
The report includes a series of policy recommendations based on input from Beyond ABC’s citizen advisory board. They include protecting state funding for child health and safety programs despite a projected budget shortfall for fiscal year 2013-2014.
The panel also recommends protecting funding for preventive healthcare programs, as well as those aimed at prenatal care and pregnant women on Medicaid. The public health infrastructure should be enhanced, especially in rural areas, and legislators should be encouraged to increase reimbursement rates to pediatric providers who accept Medicaid and CHIP patients, the report says.
Beyond ABC is a tool to better understand the needs of area children through objective data and to encourage active engagement in improving children’s lives. This year’s report is the 11th edition.
“Next year, Children’s Medical Center will celebrate its centennial,” Durovich said. “Since our founding in 1913, our mission has been to make life better for all children. We know that a healthy childhood is an essential investment in the future for North Texas and for our nation.”