Research Activities, February 2014
Children gain health insurance while parents lose
The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), established in 1997, increased Federal and State funding for children's public health insurance. A new study selected a sample of Oregon parents who participated in a statewide survey to better understand coverage access for Oregon children and conducted 53 interviews with them.
The interviews found that a loss of coverage by parents led to negative consequences for the family, such as delayed care and the inability to stay healthy. This in turn interfered with parents' ability to provide for their children. Sick parents who were unable to work did not have enough money to pay for rent, utilities, or food. Parental illness also contributed to an inability to spend time with children in leisure activities.
To investigate if the Oregon findings could be replicated nationally, the study relied on nationally representative data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS), an AHRQ-funded annual survey. Nationally, the percentage of children uninsured all year decreased from 9.6 percent in 1998 to 6.1 percent in 2009. However, during the same period, the percentage of parents uninsured all year rose from 13.6 percent to 17.1 percent.
The findings from this mixed-methods study highlight an alarming downward trend in health insurance coverage for U.S. parents. They also suggest the need for continued monitoring of upcoming policy changes to access to health insurance for children and their parents.
See "Recent health insurance trends for U.S. families: Children gain while parents lose," by Jennifer E. DeVoe, M.D., D.Phil., Carrie J. Tillotson, M.P.H., Heather Angier, M.P.H., and Lorraine S. Wallace, Ph.D., in the July 2013 Journal of Maternal and Child Health [Epub].