Over 8 million American children under the age of 18 didn’t have health insurance in 2005. More than 2 million of these kids had parents who had health insurance through their employers.

The growth of child poverty will inevitably increase during the economic recession in the U.S. What’s your hunch on how many more kids will lose access to health insurance — even if their parents keep their jobs?

The study, Uninsured Children and Adolescents With Insured Parents, debunked the myth that kids of parents with health insurance have health coverage was published in October 22/29, 2008, in the Journal of the American Medical Association. This issue of JAMA was themed, “Health of the Nation.”

Dr. Jennifer DeVoe of the Oregon Health and Science University dug into data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) from 2002 to 2005. In the data, Dr. DeVoe discovered that, even with one parent that had health insurance through work, 3.3% percent of children were uninsured or underinsured at some point during a year – equal to about 2.3 million children with no health coverage.

Having a parent covered by only public insurance was associated with better children’s coverage rates, DeVoe found. Public insurance = Medicaid. S-CHIP, which is focused on children, needs major expansion or reinvention. 43 Governors met in Philadelphia with President-elect Obama last month to let the new administration know their tax receipts won’t cover their commitments. Thus, nearly all of the United States’ state budgets are in shortfall.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: It’s time to turn to Marion Wright Edelman’s book, The Sea is So Wide and My Boat is So Small. The book was published earlier this year and should inform U.S. domestic policy in and beyond 2009.

Edelman, President and Founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, sets out the case for investing in the Human Capital of Kids.

The title of her book comes from a saying that’s claimed by Scottish and Swedish fisherman; John F. Kennedy and Jimmy Carter reputedly had this motto on their desks.

Edelman sees the rough sea that Americans are facing — particularly children.

Without investing in the human capital of children, Edelman (and many others) believes that the U.S. will erode to a second-rate economy and power.

Governors are facing growing demand for Medicaid services on the public side of health insurance. In the private sector, employers are clamping down on health insurance costs through increasing employee contributions — which effectively erodes kids’ coverage even when parents are covered.

As we look to make strategic investments in the tight economy, covering health insurance for all children is one pillar of a sound approach for economic stimulus — an investment in both the short and long-term.