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For Immediate Release
June 24, 2009
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WASHINGTON, DC— Today, the Children's Defense Fund praised a new report from Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy that found that extending health insurance coverage to all children in the United States would be relatively inexpensive compared to the cost of letting children remain uninsured and would yield economic benefits that are greater than the costs. The report, co-authored by Dr. Vivian Ho, chair in health economics at the Baker Institute and associate professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and Marah Short, senior staff researcher in health economics at the Baker Institute, reviewed recent studies published in peer-reviewed journals to examine the evidence regarding the economic impact of failing to insure all children in the United States. The study found that children with health coverage will receive better health care and enjoy better health than those without insurance, thereby improving their productivity as adults.
"Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy shows what we have long known: that an ounce of prevention is far more cost-effective than crisis care when children get sick or into trouble, drop out of school or suffer family breakdown," said Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund. "The report illustrates the importance of guaranteeing affordable, comprehensive health coverage to every uninsured child in America this year. Children cannot wait any longer for the care that they need to become healthy, productive adults."
The cost incurred by providing universal coverage to children "will be offset by the increased value of additional life years and improved health-related quality of life gained from improved health care," said Dr. Ho. "From a societal perspective, universal coverage for children appears to be cost-saving."
The report has been embraced by the business community, which increasingly recognizes the need to invest in children's health coverage to strengthen the economy. The Greater Houston Partnership, the largest business organization in the southwestern United States, lauded the report for emphasizing the importance of children’s health coverage in developing a healthy, educated workforce and maintaining a strong business climate.
"This report shows that children's health coverage is a wise investment for uninsured children and for business," said Dan Wolterman, chair of the Greater Houston Partnership Healthcare Advisory Committee. "The health costs of the uninsured has become an economic burden of the business community through property taxes, higher health insurance premiums, and lost productivity of workers with sick family members. In addition, providing children with health coverage maintains a healthy business climate for employers by providing cost-effective, preventive care for children."
The analysis compared children's health coverage in the United States to the coverage provided in other industrialized countries. Despite higher per capita spending, "the United States ranks third-highest among thirty Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries in the percentage of the population lacking health insurance, with one in seven people uninsured," said Dr. Ho.