Childhood obesity and access to health care remain some of the most pressing issues when it comes to children’s health in Bucks, Delaware and Chester counties, according to recently released reports from Public Citizens for Children and Youth, a children’s advocacy non-profit.
The reports found that nearly 20,000 children in Bucks, Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties are uninsured. More than a quarter of those kids (5,692) are undocumented and cannot enroll in CHIP or Medical Assistance.
In the three counties, about 114,000 children are overweight or obese. In addition, disparities persisted between children of different races, ethnicities, insurance statuses and incomes.
“We need to do a better job of insuring children and making kids healthier,” said Estelle Richman, former Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare and PCCY Board Member in a written statement. “The healthier our kids are, the more successful they will be later on in life.”
Each county report looked at 15 indicators of children’s health which included teen birth rate, low birth rates, teen pregnancy, asthma diagnoses, and insurance enrollment. Behavioral health was not included because of the lack of reliable public data, according to PCCY.
Here are highlights from each county:
- The share of children without health insurance decreased by 24%, the largest drop in the region. However, 3,377 children are still uninsured. It is estimated that 98% of Bucks County children are insured.
- One in three Bucks County children are overweight or obese, a jump of 4,089 children (17%) in the last five years.
- Few Chester County babies are born with low birth weights, yet disparities exist
- While 95% of Chester County children have coverage, more than 6,000 children are uninsured, the only county in southeastern Pennsylvania that saw a rise in the number of uninsured children
- Asthma hospitalizations decreased 14%, yet Delaware County has the highest asthma hospitalization rate among the four suburban counties.
- Only 19% of children under six were tested for lead, while 75% of Delaware County homes may contain lead-based paint.
To address these issues, PCCY has proposed that officials:
- Launch a county-wide campaign to get every eligible child health insurance
- Push the Commonwealth to remove the barrier to health coverage faced by undocumented children
- Encourage the State Department of Public Welfare to increase the quality of provider networks where necessary and improve efforts to reduce the incidence of obesity among the children served by the Medicaid Managed Care companies
- Improve county reporting on children without dental insurance and the number of children diagnosed and receiving treatment for behavioral health conditions
- Identify new funds to test and remediate homes and eliminate childhood lead poisoning
PCCY is working with county officials and health care providers to address these children's health issues.
“We are proud to provide programs that help to improve the health of women and children, especially those living in poor communities,” said Joanne Craig, Administrative Director of Women and Children's Health Services for Crozer-Keystone Health System in a written statement.
Here are links to full reports from Public Citizens for Children and Youth for each county:
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