One of my best friends called me this week and told me that she just started clipping coupons for the first time in her life. All across the country, moms and dads are sitting down at their kitchen tables and figuring out how to make their money stretch farther. If we are thinking carefully about our money, it's only fair that our leaders do the same. How? By stretching our healthcare dollars farther by making sure that all kids have healthcare coverage.
There are close to 9 million children in the US who do not have health insurance. When children have gaps in coverage and do not get timely preventive care, they often end up requiring more expensive health care, such as hospitalizations and emergency room visits.
In California, a study of 9 local Children's Health Initiatives (CHI) found that providing children health insurance reduced hospitalizations in the CHI counties by 25 percent and saved up to $7.35 million annually in preventable hospitalizations. If all low-income children had health insurance, the state could save $24.3 million per year in preventable hospitalizations. Not enough to convince you?
Not only does healthcare for all kids save money now, it can affect kids' long-term educational outcomes. Children covered by Healthy Families (low-cost health insurance for kids living just above the federal poverty level) showed a 63% improvement in "paying attention" and a 64% improvement in "keeping up with school activities" over their performance when uninsured. The result? Fewer children will need costly educational interventions.
Covering all kids is something that we can do now. Children are the least expensive population to insure. Children make up over half of the Medicaid population, but they account for only 23% of the total Medicaid spending. But when primary care is delayed because mom and dad can't afford to take their child to the doctor, a toothache can become a serious infection, pink eye can leave a child blind, and kids who should be home for a day miss weeks of school.
So what are we waiting for? Move over Ben Bernanke. Our leaders need a lesson in Momonomics 101 from moms and dads who know that we can't just blindly cut essential programs, we need to spend wisely. MomsRising.org is asking its members to tell our leaders that covering all kids makes economic sense.
A Peaceful Revolution is a blog about innovative ideas to strengthen America's families through public policies, business practices, and cultural change. Done in collaboration with MomsRising.org, read a new post here each week.