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The Affordable Care Act Counts Big for California’s Children

Today’s guest blog was written by Wendy Lazarus, Founder and Co-President of The Children’s Partnership. The Children’s Partnership is a national, nonprofit child advocacy organization working to ensure that all children—especially those at risk of being left behind—have the resources and the opportunities they need to grow up healthy and lead productive lives.


California’s 10 million kids can already start counting on life-changing health benefits since some of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) most important provisions related to children have already gone into effect.

While many California adults will wait until 2014 to begin to see improvements in their day-to-day life thanks to the ACA, there are many ways in which California parents are already reaping health benefits for their children, along with peace of mind. See the list of benefits that are easy to access and available to kids now, and the benefits yet to come: Affordable Care Act: Top 11 Benefits for California Children and Youth.

While counting health coverage benefits might not be as much fun as David Letterman’s “Top Ten” or “number time” with The Count on Sesame Street, these figures are still more than impressive when added up:

  • 600,000: The number of kids with pre-existing conditions, such as asthma or diabetes, whose families no longer have to worry about their kids being denied coverage.
  • 350,000: The number of young California adults under age 26 who now have coverage through their parents’ health insurance plan.
  • 1.6 million: The number of children with expanded coverage for no-cost preventive care, potentially avoiding unnecessary emergency room visits.
  • 3.2 million: The number of kids who will no longer run out of coverage because of insurance company lifetime caps, or worse, have their coverage cancelled if they become sick.

Children and families such as Dylan’s from Trinity County, CA are better off because of the benefits of the ACA. A six-year old who has a congenital heart defect, Dylan had been denied insurance coverage in the past, and his mother, Jennifer, was concerned that her son would be without health insurance when she lost her employer-sponsored coverage. Because of new protections in the ACA, Jennifer was able to apply for coverage for Dylan and didn’t have to worry that he would be denied because of his heart condition. “Before President Obama signed the health care reform law, we had a lot of anxiety related to health insurance for our son, and we were forced to make some hard choices,” Jennifer said. “We were afraid to leave our son uninsured. I’m glad we were able to get him covered.”

As valuable as the existing reforms have already been for millions of children, more improvements are just around the corner for kids in 2014. There will finally be coverage for kids whose families are not able to afford it today, when the California Health Benefit Exchange is “open for business” January 1, 2014. Families will have a “one-stop shop” where they can  compare, apply, and enroll in plans that best suit their needs. All children will be entitled to dental coverage, an especially valuable change because dental problems are the most common unmet health need kids face today. Plus, the ACA strengthens and provides additional funding for California’s Medi-Cal and Healthy Families programs that are already in place. Federal funds will also be used to simplify eligibility and renewal processes to sign up nearly 700,000 uninsured low-income children.

With these early successes, imagine how many more kids and families’ lives will be improved once the ACA is fully implemented.


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