WASHINGTON - September 28 - A majority of the more than 9 million children without health insurance in the United States live in two-parent families, according to a new report released today. In most of these two-parent families, both parents work.
These were among the key findings in a comprehensive new analysis of uninsured children prepared by the national consumer organization Families USA on behalf of the Campaign for Children’s Health Care, a coalition of more than 50 national organizations that is raising public awareness about the plight of uninsured children.
According to the report, the overwhelming majority of uninsured children (88.3 percent) come from families where at least one parent works. Children who are uninsured are far less likely to receive needed health care than insured children:
- Uninsured children are more than 13 times as likely to lack a usual source of health care as insured children.
- Uninsured children are more than three times as likely not to have seen a doctor in the past year as insured children.
- More than half (54 percent) of uninsured children did not have a well-child visit in the past year, more than double the rate (26 percent) for insured children.
- Uninsured children are nearly five times as likely as insured children to have at least one delayed or unmet health care need.
“Even though progress has been made in expanding health coverage for children, one out of every nine American children continues to be uninsured,” said Ron Pollack, Executive Director of Families USA. “For those 9 million uninsured children, the resulting harm is huge—in denied health care, as well as stunted educational and personal development.
“The problem of uninsured children strikes at the heart of American families,” Pollack said. “Among the stunning findings of this report, we learned that a majority of uninsured children live in two-parent families, and almost 90 percent live in families where at least one parent works.”
There are huge differences from state to state in the portion of children who are uninsured. The states with the highest rates of uninsured children are Texas (20.4 percent), Florida (17.0 percent), New Mexico (16.7 percent), Nevada (16.4 percent), Montana (16.2 percent), Arizona (16.1 percent), and Oklahoma (16.1 percent).
The states with the lowest rates of uninsured children are Vermont (5.6 percent), Michigan (6.4 percent), New Hampshire (6.4 percent), Hawaii (6.4 percent), Minnesota (6.6 percent), and Nebraska (6.6 percent).
The report indicates that most uninsured children are in low-wage working families: More than two out of every three (70.8 percent) uninsured children are in families with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level ($33,200 in annual income for a family of three). Only 8.5 percent of uninsured children are in families with incomes above four times the federal poverty level.
This finding is significant because, in most states, children are eligible for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) if their family incomes are below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. A key issue about the SCHIP program, which Congress is expected to reauthorize in 2007, is whether sufficient resources will be made available to states to enroll all eligible children.
According to the report, approximately 38 percent of all uninsured children are white, non-Hispanic; another 38 percent are Hispanic; approximately 16 percent are African American; and 8 percent either have multiple ethnicities or have a different (e.g. Asian-Pacific Islander or Native American) background.
“As a pediatrician and former children's hospital CEO, I know the consequences to kids of going without regular, basic pediatric care,” said Dr. David Alexander, Medical Advisor for Public Policy, National Association of Children's Hospitals. “A clear starting point to ensure children's access to care is to enroll all eligible children in SCHIP and Medicaid, which will drastically cut the number of uninsured children in this country. Fully two-thirds of uninsured children are eligible for these programs. We need continued bipartisan support in Congress for children's enrollment in Medicaid and SCHIP to keep these kids from falling through the cracks.”
The Campaign for Children’s Health Care is undertaking a variety of efforts to galvanize support for expanding children’s health coverage. Among those efforts is an online petition that urges members of Congress and the President “. . . to begin work immediately on legislation that will provide comprehensive, affordable, high-quality health coverage for all children.” The petition is posted on the Campaign’s Web site.
The data for this report are based on the Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the Current Population Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau as well as the 2005 National Health Interview Survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics
Full report (pdf version)