While immunization coverage of Louisiana children is the fifth best in the country, other children's issues still need to be addressed. The state is 44th in the country for children living in poverty, 49th in the country for infant mortality and 49th in the country for high school graduation, according to United Health Foundation. Through public health care programs for children, the state has only 11.1 percent of its children without insurance, according to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.
The federal government has set minimum benefit packages for Medicaid that limit cost sharing. Children under 6 years old living in households making less than 133 percent of the federal poverty level, or up to 19 years old living in households making less than the federal poverty level, qualify. Louisiana had more than 616,000 children covered by Medicaid in 2008.
Louisiana Children's Health Insurance Program
The Louisiana Children's Health Insurance Program (LaCHIP) allows the state to cover children through a program where the state controls the options. LaCHIP extends medical coverage to children who are not eligible for Medicaid, are under 19 years old and are living in households making less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level. LaCHIP programs can't have cost-sharing above 5 percent of the insured person's income. Louisiana had nearly 148,000 people covered by LaCHIP programs in 2008.
Other options exist to get health care coverage for children in Louisiana. If the child has a pre-existing condition, he could qualify for coverage under the Louisiana Health Plan. It is a high-risk pool that allows people deemed uninsurable to get coverage. Premiums for this coverage are high, but it allows coverage where otherwise there is none. Children might also find care through a local health clinic.
The easiest way for a child to get health care coverage is to get it through the parents' healthcare policy. The parents pay a higher premium for family coverage and children are covered as soon as they are born. Under the new federal healthcare policy, children can remain covered under their family policy until they turn 26 years old.
Louisiana is not known for the healthfulness of its citizens. The United Health Foundation ranked Louisiana at the 47th healthiest state in the country in 2009. This was the state's highest ranking in 19 years the study was published. The ranking, according to Forbes.com, looks at 22 indicators of health, including everything from how many children receive recommended vaccinations, to obesity and smoking rates, to cancer deaths. However, the state is working toward improving itself, in particular by taking care of its children. According to United Health Foundation, the overall health of the state needs improvement; 83 percent of children are immunized.