Study Shows American Indian Families Rely on Medicaid at Considerably Higher Rates Than All Children

Fifty-four Percent of AI/AN Children Were Enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP in 2015 as Compared to 39% of All children
Joan Alker, Research Professor, Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy

(Washington D.C., Monday, July 17, 2017)

  • Children in American Indian (AI) or Alaska native (AN) families rely on Medicaid at considerably higher rates than all children, according to a new study from Georgetown University‚Äôs Center for Children and Families.
  • The states with the largest share of AI/AN children and adults on Medicaid programs are: Alaska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, New Mexico, Arizona and Oklahoma.
  • All of these states saw very large, double digit declines in their uninsured rates for children with the largest declines in New Mexico - from 38% to 11% - and Alaska - from 32% to 17% - between 2008 and 2015.
  • Fifty-four percent of AI/AN children were enrolled in Medicaid or CHIP in 2015 as compared to 39% of all children. The importance of Medicaid to these families has grown considerably since 2008.
  • Nationally, the uninsured rate for AI/AN children declined from 25% to 15% and for AI/AN adults the rate declined from 36% to 28% between 2008 and 2015.

American Indian and Alaska native adults also gained Medicaid coverage, though likely more recently. The top five states with the largest percentage point increase in Medicaid coverage were all Medicaid expansion states: New Mexico (25 percentage points), Washington (15 percentage points), California (13 percentage points), North Dakota (nine percentage points), and Alaska (eight percentage points). Those states all saw considerable improvement in their uninsured rates for AI/AN adults by 2015. North Carolina and Oklahoma also saw improvements in coverage rates for AI/AN adults during the time period even though they did not expand Medicaid.

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