PoliticsHealth Care


New data shows millions of children have lost Medicaid coverage

A federal policy enacted early in the COVID pandemic that guaranteed medical coverage for low-income families through Medicaid ended in March.
Posted at 3:03 PM, Nov 15, 2023

An estimated 2.2 million children in the United States have lost Medicaid coverage in 2023.

"Any disruption in coverage can have serious health consequences, serious health and mental health consequences," said Jennifer Tolbert, associate director of KFF's program on Medicaid and the uninsured.

The enrollment decline figures come from a new analysis by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families that examined data from all 50 states.

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, a federal policy was enacted to guarantee medical coverage for low-income families through Medicaid — but that policy ended back in March. Since then, many states have been dropping people from Medicaid rolls.

"It's hard to imagine a worse time when we're moving into the winter season with multiple respiratory viruses, flu, COVID-19 and RSV circulating," said Joan Alker, executive director at Georgetown Center for Children and Families.

Alker says states are currently going through family requalification processes.

"The process is very backlogged, and we've seen a couple of states with very large numbers of children losing coverage," said Alker. 

Tolbert says most children are losing coverage for procedural reasons.

"They never received a renewal notice or their families submitted documentation to confirm ongoing eligibility, but that information wasn't processed by the state," Tolbert said. 

KFF also released a new analysis, reporting that children accounted for roughly 4 in 10 Medicaid disenrollments this year, based on data from the 21 states reporting age breakouts. Alker says many of the children who have lost their Medicaid are probably still eligible.

"Research projects that as many as 3 out of 4 of children losing Medicaid will remain eligible," Alker said. 

Over 2 million children have lost health insurance in the US this year
Generic photo of a child who is sick getting his temperature checked.

Over 2 million children have lost health insurance in the US this year

Researchers suggest these figures might be significantly underestimated, and the number could potentially be higher.