Press Release: Number of Uninsured Children in South Carolina Jumps 20 Percent

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Georgetown University Report Shows Nationwide Increase for the First Time in a Decade

SC Appleseed Media Contact:
Sue Berkowitz | [email protected] |

Georgetown University Center for Children and Families Media Contact:
Cathy Hope | [email protected]


The number of uninsured children in South Carolina climbed from about 50,000 to 60,000 in the past year, reversing course on the progress the state has made in expanding health coverage, according to a new report released by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.

The state’s rate of uninsured children dropped from 12.1 percent in 2008 to 4.3 percent in 2016, only to ratchet back up to 5.1 percent in 2017, the analysis of U.S. Census data shows.

“The loss of health coverage could have a profound impact on our most vulnerable children,” said Sue Berkowitz, Director of South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center. “When their health needs are met, they are more likely to attend school regularly, graduate and earn a decent living.”

The state’s increases come as more than 276,000 children nationally joined the ranks of the uninsured last year, the first significant increase in nearly a decade.

“With an improving economy and low unemployment, the fact that our nation is going backwards on children’s health coverage is very troubling,” said Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University research center and a research professor at the McCourt School of Public Policy. “We see these finding as a red flag and a sign that policymakers need to take action to get back on track.

Three quarters of the children who lost coverage live in states that, like South Carolina, have not expanded Medicaid to working families. South Carolina’s child uninsured rate increased at quadruple the rate of states that have expanded Medicaid.  It is one of nine states that saw statistically significant increases between 2016 and 2017, according to the most recent data.

“When parents have health insurance, their children are more likely to be insured as well” said Dr. Julie M. Linton, member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Community Pediatrics Executive Committee and a pediatrician in Greenville, SC. “Expanding Medicaid coverage to more uninsured adults would help South Carolina’s children by offering coverage to the whole family.”


The Georgetown Center on Children and Families is an independent, nonpartisan policy and research center founded in 2005 with a mission to expand and improve high-quality, affordable health coverage for America’s children and families.

For nearly four decades, South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center has been a forceful and respected advocate for low income South Carolinians on issues such as housing, education, hunger, public benefits, domestic violence, immigration, health care and consumer issues