Washington County is home to nearly 1,500 children who lack health insurance – a troubling statistic we could improve through the creation of a health insurance exchange as part of federal health care reform.
In simple terms, the exchange is a user-friendly online marketplace where consumers can shop for health insurance, comparing coverage options and costs. A high-quality exchange can help parents more easily find and buy affordable health insurance for their families. Gov. Tom Corbett’s recent announcement that Pennsylvania would not operate its own exchange is an unfortunate setback for our uninsured kids and families, but there is still potential for a partnership exchange with the federal government that will give the commonwealth some input into how the exchange operates here.
Pennsylvania should pursue the partnership option.
Why should you care if someone else’s child lacks insurance? Because when every child has access to quality physical and behavioral health care, we all benefit. Children have better school attendance and academic performance, working parents are less likely to miss work to care for a sick child, and employers benefit from more productive, focused employees.
Keeping kids healthy is not just about vaccinations and routine physicals. It also involves detection and treatment of behavioral health issues like anxiety, depression or autism. When children’s physical or behavioral health issues are spotted early, proper treatment is often less complicated and less costly. It becomes easier to keeps kids healthy, in school and on track to success.
If Pennsylvania creates a strong health insurance exchange, it can reach thousands of uninsured children in Washington County and across the commonwealth.
The writer is the director of health policy for Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children.