Many Children Are Without Health Insurance, but There Is Help
As a single mother to a toddler who didn't have health insurance, Karlene Falco knew what terror felt like.
The Marina del Rey resident lived in fear of Gabriel's frequent fevers and ear infections. Trips to the playground, where a rambunctious boy could seriously hurt himself, were almost nonexistent.
"I was without a job for a while, so neither one of us had any insurance - it was probably about a year we didn't have any insurance," Falco said. "There was literally no help from anybody. Nobody in my family could really help."
Falco knew she wasn't alone, and researched ways to get the health care her child needed at low costs. But paying for urgent care visits and prescriptions out of pocket really adds up, she found.
"It was killing me," Falco added.
According to U.S. Census Bureau figures released this month, about 10 percent of California children lacked health insurance last year. Nearly a quarter of parents who have health insurance report that their policies are so inadequate, they can't access the care their children need, researchers at the Office of Epidemiology, Policy and Evaluation at the Health Resources and Services Administration found in a study published Aug. 26 in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The study also found that children with private insurance faired worse than those with public insurance. Not surprising were findings that children who faced the most barriers to medical care were those with special needs, those in fair or poor health and Hispanic children.
About 93 percent of Los Angeles County's 2.5 million children under the age of 18 have some kind of insurance, the Census Bureau reports. About a quarter of them, like Falco, receive health coverage through L.A. Care Health Plan - which administers the Healthy Kids program for more than 17,400 children. First 5 LA provides funding for Healthy Kids insurance for children prenatal to age 5.
Falco thought she had solved her insurance problems when she landed a new job. But, finding out that it would cost about $500 a month to put Gabriel on her plan made her panic.
A co-worker directed her to L.A. Care and, Gabriel, now 5, has received insurance from Healthy Kids for about a year. With a $6 monthly fee for full medical, dental and vision coverage, plus $5 co-payments and prescriptions, Falco said her prayers were answered.
She was so impressed by the plan that, earlier this year, she traveled to Sacramento to protest threats to divert First 5 funding for health insurance and other programs in L.A. County to the state's general fund.
Now, when her bright and active kindergartner coughs at night or swings precariously from the monkey bars, Falco said she just counts her blessings.
First 5 LA is working to make developmental and behavioral screening more accessible...Read More
The safety of my kids is something I think about constantly, as I’m sure it’s...Read More
When my first son was born, we didn’t rush around trying to childproof our home....Read More
EDITOR’S NOTE: Since February of this year, First 5 LA has hosted a monthly...Read More