• Kids Count Alaska 2003

      Hanna, Virgene; Lampman, Claudia (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 2003)
      This year's spotlight for the Kid's Count Alaska Data Book is child health. As many as 12,000 more children in Alaska could qualify for a government-funded program that provides health care coverage for children without health insurance, according to a non- profit group working to let more Alaskans know about the program. Denali KidCare is an extension of Medicaid for children from uninsured families whose income is somewhat too high to qualify them for Medicaid. In 2003, children whose family income was less than 175 percent of the federal poverty level could apply. About 22,000 children were enrolled in the program during 2002, and the estimate of 12,000 additional children who could be eligible is based on U.S. census information about family income. The 2003 Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that Alaska high-school students are only about half as likely to use inhalants or smoke cigarettes as they were in 1995, and significantly less likely to drink, to fight, and to have sex without using condoms. The decline in inhalant use is especially welcome news, since sniffing gasoline fumes has killed a number of teenagers in Alaska Native villages in recent years. Students in Alaska are also now less likely than students nationwide to use inhalants—and to smoke or get into fights. On almost all measures, fewer Alaska students reported risky behavior in 2003 than in 1995, the last time this survey was administered in school districts statewide. So the recent news is good, but many high-school students are still putting their health—especially their long-term health—and safety at risk.