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Despite Bad Economy, S.C. Makes Progress In Enrolling Kids

Press Release:

New Analysis Shows State, National Progress in Extending Coverage

Columbia – South Carolina made significant progress in reducing the number of uninsured children from 2008 to 2010, according to a new report released by the South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center and authored by the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute’s Center for Children and Families.  South Carolina’s rate of uninsured kids declined from 11.7% in 2008 to 9.4% in 2010, meaning more than 23,000 additional children had coverage in 2010, despite challenging unemployment and increases in child poverty.  Nationwide, the rate of uninsured children went from 9.0% in 2008 to 8.0% in 2010.

“The progress on children’s health insurance is due to the success of Medicaid and Healthy Connection Kids, which have continued to fill the void created by a decline in employer-based health insurance, high unemployment, and the increasing cost of private health insurance,” said Sue Berkowitz of the South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center.

“Now we call on the General Assembly to build on this progress by granting the Department of Health and Human Services the additional $35 million it has requested, in order to provide coverage to another 70,000 children in South Carolina who are currently shut out of our healthcare system.”

Analyzing newly available data from the Census Bureau, the Georgetown researchers examined the changes in coverage rates for children from 2008 through 2010.

In 2008, South Carolina had about 124,900 uninsured children according the report, which uses data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.  By 2010, that number had declined to 101,900.  South Carolina’s improvement in coverage for kids of 2.3 percentage points over three years was enough to put it into the top ten among states for improvement over that period.

While state-specific demographic data are not available, nationally there are some important differences worth noting among demographic groups.  Hispanic and Native American children remain disproportionately uninsured, older children are less likely to be covered than younger children, and uninsured rates are higher for children living in families earning below 50 percent of the poverty line.

“This report highlights a rare piece of good news at a challenging time for children. Poverty has gone up, but more kids are insured,” said Joan Alker, Co-executive Director of the Georgetown Center for Children and Families. “State leaders, with strong federal support through Medicaid and CHIP, have provided some much needed peace of mind to many families struggling to meet their children’s health care needs during perilous economic times.  These gains are fragile and could quickly be reversed if state or federal support erodes.”

See the full report here.

Seniors Realizing ACA’s Benefits, Doughnut-Hole Shrinkage

From The Associated Press:

By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR

Sunday, 11.27.11

WASHINGTON — Medicare’s prescription coverage gap is getting noticeably smaller and easier to manage this year for millions of older and disabled people with high drug costs.

The “doughnut hole,” an anxiety-inducing catch in an otherwise popular benefit, will shrink about 40 percent for those unlucky enough to land in it, according to new Medicare figures provided in response to a request from The Associated Press.

The average beneficiary who falls into the coverage gap would have spent $1,504 this year on prescriptions. But thanks to discounts and other provisions in President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law, that cost fell to $901, according to Medicare’s Office of the Actuary, which handles economic estimates.

A 50 percent discount that the law secured from pharmaceutical companies on brand name drugs yielded an average savings of $581. Medicare also picked up more of the cost of generic drugs, saving an additional $22.

The estimates are averages, so some Medicare recipients may do worse and others better. Also, it’s still unclear if the discounts will start to overcome seniors’ deep unease about the law. Continue reading

S.C. Health Insurance Bringing Up The Rear Again

From The Health Care Blog:

Still ringing true after all these years.

By Al Lewis

Nov 22, 2011

What makes a state’s health insurance successful for its citizens?   It should be affordable, it should cover a lot of people, and it should manage its members well, keeping people healthy as measured both by preventive care as well as actual health outcomes.

It turns out that, using those criteria, the state with the highest Health Insurance Success Score (HISS) is Massachusetts.   One would expect high quality, good outcomes and of course close to 100% coverage in the Bay State, but it also — quite surprisingly — ranks 5th in affordability, as described below.

Hawaii is a very close second.  (One could also argue that Hawaii’s circumstances are unique and non-comparable because that state differentially attracts and retains healthy residents, but the analysis eschewed all subjectivity and second-guessing of the data.)    Texas is last, one point behind Arkansas.   In both the best and worst listings, there is a noticeable gap between the two states at the extremes and their respective runner-up pelotons.

Out of a potential overall score of 4 to 204 (4 would be a #1 ranking in all 4 categories), the top ten states would be:

The bottom ten states would be:

The 51-state (including DC) ranking may be obtained gratis from the author. Continue reading

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