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As a budget cutting, strategy, Arizona froze enrollment in KidsCare health coverage effective January 2010. In doing so, Arizona became the only state in the country to phase out its KidsCare program. On January 31, 2014, the temporary KidsCare II program that was created to fill the gap expired. 14,000 children lost their coverage and were urged to apply to the federal Marketplace. In every other state, children in low-income families can continue to apply and enroll in their children’s health insurance program. In Arizona, children can no longer enroll in KidsCare.

Many Arizonans have wondered whether losing KidsCare matters for children’s health care. After all, the Marketplace plans that are part of Obamacare must offer coverage to all children no matter what pre-existing conditions they have. These plans must cover a list of required “essential benefits” and financial assistance is available based on family income.

A new analysis by Children’s Action Alliance and the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families shows that losing KidsCare matters a lot. The data show that compared to KidsCare, the Marketplace plans have much higher out-of-pocket costs that will make health care unaffordable for many families.

Isabel for bookletThe analysis uses real-life scenarios of three children and their actual use of health care services to determine what their costs would be if enrolled in three different qualified health plans in the Marketplace with tax credits and cost-sharing reductions.

Low-income children with common healthcare needs saw health care costs increase between 2 to 8 times without KidsCare. The family of Isabel, a girl with cerebral palsy, would pay 8 to 38 times more for a Marketplace plan compared to KidsCare. These costs could exceed 15% of her family income.

The findings point to additional barriers to children’s health care, including extra expenses for stand-alone dental plans, a lack of pediatric specialists, and limits on certain needed benefits.

Join Children’s Action Alliance in the coming year, as we work with policymakers and health care leaders to find practical ways to cut down the barriers to children’s health care in Arizona. If we do nothing, it is clear that thousands of children will go without the care they need to be healthy in school and in life.

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