More than 150,000 Pennsylvania children have no health insurance, and even those who are insured often lack the preventive care needed to stay healthy, according to a new statewide report from Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children.
“Despite Pennsylvania’s status as a national leader in providing accessible, affordable health care to our children, there are too many areas where we still fall short,” PPC President and CEO Joan Benso says. “A fundamental goal of health care reform is to improve access to physical and behavioral health care for our kids, so we need to make sure that happens.”
Fewer than 60 percent of children insured through these publicly funded programs receive the appropriate number of wellness visits between birth and 15 months—visits that are crucial to preventive health care, the report says.
About 1 in 4 children fail to receive appropriate immunizations against preventable illnesses such as polio, tetanus or hepatitis. And, nearly half don’t receive annual dental checkups.
The report researchers say ensuring the health in children is critical to the state’s social and economic well-being. Healthy children have better school attendance and academic performance, meaning working parents are less likely to need unexpected time off and employers benefit from a more productive, cost-effective work force.
The report compiles data from 2010, to provide a baseline for future reports, which will offer year-to-year comparisons to help identify areas where the commonwealth has made gains or needs to improve.
“We can do better,” Benso says. “Children need and deserve access to a full range of physical and behavioral health care resources to ensure their overall well-being. When we ensure our kids grow up healthy, the entire commonwealth benefits.”
Benso also says the passage of health reform “provides an opportunity to ensure greater access to affordable, quality health care for all children.”