A new study by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research estimates that up to 220,000 California children may be excluded from affordable health care coverage under health care reform due to their immigrant status.
The number represents approximately 20 percent of all uninsured children in California.
Of those children, up to 40,000 may be eligible for coverage but may not apply, due to confusion about new rules governing access to both the California Health Benefit Exchange and the state’s expanded Medi-Cal program.
The study has garnered wide attention, particularly in the Hispanic press, including stories by La Opinion and Univision. A San Bernardino Sun article noted that kids without coverage may pose a health risk to all kids, as infectious disease can spread easily in places where children gather, such as schools and playgrounds.
“If the goal of public health is to prevent the spread of infectious disease, then there is a potential threat from children who don’t have access to health care,” said Dr. Sohan Bassi, an infectious disease specialist at San Antonio Community Hospital in Upland, in the article.
Bassi noted that recent outbreaks of whooping cough were very likely spread from unvaccinated individuals who did not have access to health care.
“If a child is part of the school system, they should be part of the health care system,” Bassi said.