Medicaid is a critical resource for millions of low-income families around the country. Medicaid provides families with health insurance coverage they otherwise couldn’t afford, benefiting parents and their children. In addition to satisfying basic health care needs, new research from Harvard and Cornell Universities shows a direct link between Medicaid and improved school performance in children. The study correlates insured children with a higher likelihood of completing high school, attending college, and succeeding in life.
The Connection Between Health Care and Education
The report gives evidence that suggests better health is a main mechanism driving education. It mentions that the long-term returns of providing increased insurance access to children go beyond just better health status, and into the realm of education. Affordable health coverage lets children in low-income families reap the benefits of access to treatment for physical and mental illnesses, helping them thrive and focus on their education.
Other related studies, such as “The Impact of Children’s Public Health Insurance Expansions on Educational Outcomes” have demonstrated that children affected at birth by increased health insurance eligibility have improved reading tests scores. Health insurance at birth is linked to improvements in infant health status, measured by rates of infant mortality and birth weight.
Medicaid helps families afford prenatal and infant care, especially care for low birth weight and premature babies that may need additional time in an incubator. Lack of health insurance, on the other hand, can lead to higher infant mortality rates and harmful low health status. Better health status at birth is connected to improved educational outcomes. Thus, improving children’s health via Medicaid can ultimately improve classroom performance.
Medicaid and Financial Hardship
Financial hardship has long-since been associated with poorer school performance in children. Family financial stress can lead to symptoms of anxiety and depression in children, taking away from their ability to perform well or pay attention in school. Students with lower socio-economic standings have a lot more on their minds than students who only have to worry about homework – such as where their next meal is coming from or how a parent will pay the electric bill. Adult problems rub off on the child, making it difficult or impossible to succeed in school.
Medicaid has taken great strides toward reducing financial stress on a family. Low-income families no longer have to wonder how they will pay for a child’s vaccinations or illness. They do not have to worry about unpaid medical bills, collection agencies, and difficulty qualifying for credit. Thanks to Medicaid, low-income families can afford medical bills and avoid falling into medical bankruptcy. Children benefit the most from Medicaid, as they no longer suffer under the burden of financial stress. They are free to focus on their studies, not poor health or their parents’ access to health care.
The Importance of Childhood Health Insurance
There is a strong correlation between a parent’s healthcare status and the child’s. If a parent is uninsured, there is a high likelihood of the child also being uninsured. Medicaid provides insurance for every member of low-income families, leading to a higher likelihood of future children being insured. Moreover, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides coverage for families that are low income but just above the wage maximum for Medicaid coverage.
A large body of research and hard data provide strong evidence that health coverage among low-income children is associated with gains in school performance due to improved health. Insured children have better access to medical care, including medications for conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) that can facilitate learning. Children without access to health insurance have to go without these important resources, suffering the consequences of something out of their control.
Medicaid has increased insurance coverage among low-income children, giving them the same chance at good health and school performance that non-low-income children have. Poor infant and childhood health will no longer be an issue that brings down school grades. Income will not stand in the way of a child’s eligibility for health care. Medicaid for low-income adults reduces the number of uninsured children, boosts families’ economic security, and gives children healthier parents. It takes a great burden off of children’s shoulders and enables them to focus on their studies instead of their family’s financial and medical issues.
How Medicaid Helps Society
Medicaid makes pediatric care possible, and pediatric care makes it possible for a child to succeed in school. In the long run, improved school performance can lead to individual and societal economic well-being and productivity. Children who grow up with health insurance
have greater economic opportunities due to improved odds of graduating high school and college. In turn, these children will create a stronger workforce. Medicaid and CHIP coverage help today’s adults, children, and future generations by fueling education and lifelong success. To schedule an appointment with a Provo Pediatrician that accepts Medicaid, call (801) 377-8000.