Roughly two-thirds of all Connecticut children without health insurance are Hispanic, according to the Office of Health Care Access. OHCA Commissioner Christine Vogel: Today is the first time any committee has asked for her agency’s figures on the uninsured.
That stat sparked discussion today at a meeting of Healthy Kids CT, the policy group convened by House Speaker James Amann (D-Milford) to examine the problem of uninsured children in Connecticut. The number came from a telephone survey conducted by OHCA, in which over 3,000 households were interviewed. The margin of error was around one percent, according to OHCA Commissioner Christine Vogel.“The demographics of the children that we were surveying, two thirds were Hispanic. And over 60 percent of them were over 12 years old,” Vogel said. “I’m not sure if it is a cultural issue amongst Hispanic families, because also 40 percent of our [overall] uninsured are Hispanic as well.” Knowing exactly which population isn’t being served could help policymakers come up with solutions that perhaps don’t involve creating huge new programs, Vogel said. “I’m not sure if we have to recreate the wheel, or if we need to redesign something we’re already doing,” she said.The group also discussed OHCA’s estimate that 2.1 percent of Connecticut children are uninsured- about 17,300. That’s considerably lower than other studies which place the number of uninsured at 71,000. OHCA’s study reported the number of uninsured children at one specific point in time, Vogel said, while other studies report how many children have been uninsured at any point within a given calendar year. Either way, the state has been successful in marketing HUSKY to large swaths of children, said state Sen. John Kissel (R-Enfield). Now it is time to refine the approach to reach children in these underserved communities. “Instead of setting up wholesale, we need to really retail it,” said state Sen. John Kissel (R-Enfield).Amann asked Vogel if the state had done anything in terms of outreach to underserved communities since 2004, the year OHCA conducted its survey.“No sir. I’m grateful but disappointed to announce that this is the first committee to ask OHCA to present this data,” Vogel said.