Choosing to Cover All Kids

Every child should have the opportunity for a healthy life, and no child should suffer as a result of being denied health care. Unfortunately, many families in our state are faced with the choice between providing needed medical care for their children or paying the bills.

Nicolas’s mother works full-time at a call center. She receives health coverage through her employer, but can’t afford a family plan to cover her son. Nicolas didn’t find out he had asthma until his first severe asthma attack during recess at school. His mother rushed from work to take him to Urgent Care, where the doctor diagnosed Nicolas with acute asthma and prescribed preventative medication and a rescue inhaler. The hospital bill and medication cost over two thousand dollars. When Nicolas ran out of the preventative medication, his mom was still paying off his hospital bill and couldn’t afford the refill. He began using the rescue inhaler every day, but sometimes it wasn’t enough.

Terrifying asthma attacks and panicked ER visits became a consistent part of Nicolas’s life, and it started to take a toll. He missed school due to repeated hospital visits. He wasn’t reading at grade-level by the 5th grade and lost interest in school. His mom can’t provide him with the help he needs to get back on track — she’s struggling to pay the hospital bills piling up and fears that one day she will have to make the impossible decision of providing Nicolas with his medicine or keeping the roof over their heads.

Nicolas’s classmate Daniel also has asthma. He was diagnosed after his primary care physician administered several tests during his yearly check-up. The doctor gave him preventative medication and a rescue inhaler for emergencies. As Daniel’s asthma became more acute, he saw his doctor regularly to stabilize his condition. His treatment didn’t require Urgent Care visits and he rarely missed school. He read at grade level and made the honor roll. Because he had health coverage, Daniel has been able to thrive despite his acute asthma.

The contrast can’t be clearer: health care coverage can make the difference between a bright future or failing in school. As a state, we have a choice to provide the critical care kids need to lead healthy lives, or we can allow children to fall behind. United for Kids Children’s Agenda partners CareOregon and Oregon Latino Health Coalition are working on legislation this session to ensure all children have health care coverage. Contact your representatives and tell them that the choice is simple — we can and must give Oregon kids an opportunity to grow up healthy, and it starts with ensuring all children have access to health care.