According to a report issued today by the Commonwealth Fund, Nevada is in last place when it comes to health care for children. According to a story published by the Las Vegas Review Journal, “Nevada ranked 48th in access, dead last in prevention and 43rd in potential to living healthy lives in the future.”
Nevada is so far behind front-runner Iowa, that in order to catch up, “161,540 more children up to age 17 in the Silver State would have to receive both routine and preventive medical and dental care visits each year.”
In spite of these numbers, Governor Brian Sandoval still suggested cutting reimbursement rates by 15% for physicians involved in the Medicaid program. Over 275,000 people are currently enrolled in Medicaid, with 3,000-4,000 more people joining each month. However, more and more doctors are opting out of the Medicaid program because their costs aren’t being covered. If these cuts are approved, even more children will be without healthcare access. One-third of the children in Nevada are already being seen via public programs.
According to Dr. Forman, who spoke with the Las Vegas Review Journal, “You’ll actually see people using emergency rooms, the most expensive way to deliver health care, far more than they do now for their children’s health care.”
This trend isn’t a surprising one, considering that only 45% of children in Nevada have a “medical home,” meaning a doctor that they see regularly. This may be due to the lack of doctors in Nevada. The Las Vegas Review Journal reports that “in 2007, the last year with firm statistics, the state had 218 physicians per 100,000 residents, ranking 48th among states in the number of physicians per capita.”
The shortage is especially noticeable in more rural areas. Unfortunately, the impact is becoming clear. Over 30% of children have issues with their oral health. Another 34% of children are obese.
The good news is that 83.4 percent of children ages 0-18 have some sort of health insurance. However, there is a group of children whose parents cannot afford coverage because their employers don’t offer health insurance, but they make too much to qualify for Medicaid.
In Nevada, a family of four with two children over the age of six cannot make more than $1,838 per month. Nevada also has a tightly constrained budget right now, which will make future care even less likely.
Photo thanks to Eden pictures via Flickr