Connecticut had one of the lowest rates of uninsured children in the U.S. at 3.9 percent in 2012, according to a new report released Thursday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a public-health philanthropy.
Massachusetts had the lowest rate of children without health insurance, 1.4 percent, followed by Vermont, 3 percent; Hawaii, 3.3 percent; Delaware, 3.6 percent; and Illinois, 3.6 percent.
Nationally, the rate of uninsured children fell from 9.7 percent to 7.5 percent between 2008 and 2012. Not one state showed an increase in the percentage of uninsured children from 2008 to 2012, though some states still have double-digit rates.
Nevada had the worst rate at 17 percent, followed by Alaska, 13.3 percent; Arizona, 13.2 percent; and Texas, 13 percent.
The report was conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota who analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, which fields questions about a wide variety of subjects, including health coverage. Data from 2013 and 2014 was not available for the study.
The report looks at the change in uninsured children from 2008 to 2012, a time when America’s economy improved and there was an increase in public health coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
“The Medicaid program and the CHIP program has been the safety net,” said Lynn Blewett, lead researcher and director of the State Health Access Data Assistance Center at the University of Minnesota.
“If you have a strong and comprehensive program for kids, you’re likely to do better than other states,” Blewett said. “With the economic downturn from 2009, the states that have those good, strong safety net programs have done better than other states. So, Connecticut would be one of those.”
In Connecticut, the rate of children with private insurance, such as employer-based coverage, fell from 75.3 percent in 2008 to 67.9 percent in 2012. The rate of Connecticut children with public health insurance increased from 19.6 percent to 28.2 percent during the same period.
It’s not clear how much of the shift from private health insurance to public coverage was driven by people losing medical coverage due to unemployment and relying on Medicaid, or people simply enrolling their children in newly expanded public health insurance.
The uninsured rate of Hispanic children in Connecticut decreased from 9 percent in 2008 to 5.5 percent in 2012. Among non-Hispanic white children in the state, the uninsured rate fell from 3.9 percent to 2.7 percent during the same period.
There wasn’t sufficient data available to track uninsured rates among black, Asian and Native American children, though the survey did include a non-white category that included all non-white and non-Hispanic children; the rate for all of those races combined remained flat at 5.8 percent, Blewett said.
“We’re starting to see more of a reduction in the disparities both on income and on race and ethnicity,” Blewett said. “We’re starting to see more kids getting coverage across both income levels and race and ethnicity.”
The uninsured rate of children in the middle-class-to-wealthy category actually inched up a bit, from 0.8 percent in 2008 to 1.3 percent in 2012. That group represents children in a family earning 401 percent or more of the federal poverty level, which is $92,200 annually for a family of four.
During the same period, the uninsured rate improved from 8.8 percent to 6.7 percent of children in families earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, which is less than about $31,700 annually.
The rate of uninsured Connecticut children improved from 9.1 percent to 5.1 percent in families making between 139 percent and 400 percent of federal poverty level, which is between about $31,700 and $92,200 annually for a family of four.