A new study finds that in many households, the parents have health insurance and the children do not. This circumstance is particularly common in low and middle- income homes.
The study, to be published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), looked at the records of nearly 40,000 children and teens. Among that group - 3.3 percent of kids were uninsured, despite having at least one parent with coverage.
More than nine million U.S. kids are going without coverage and double that number has coverage gaps during some time over the course of a year.
A lack of coverage also impacts access to prescription medication, preventive care, and necessary vaccines.
"This is millions of parents unable to access stable, continuous health-care coverage for themselves and their children. These are painful realities, choices to forego and delay care every day," study author Dr. Jennifer E. DeVoe, an assistant professor of family medicine at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, said to the Washington Post at a news conference Tuesday.
Researchers found that slightly more than half of the children are not enrolled in public coverage such as SCHIP, that they may qualify for.
The State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) did not expand earlier this year to cover 10 million children as had been proposed. Instead President Bush put a band-aid on the controversial national child health insurance program, extending the present program until March 2009.
SCHIP was created to provide coverage to people who do not earn enough to afford private health insurance, but more money than qualifies them for Medicaid.
Typically in the JAMA study, the home with uninsured children had parents with less than a high school education, single-parent households, living in the south or the west, Hispanic ethnicity, and had a parent with private insurance.
Many parents, who get health coverage through their employment, may not be able to afford extending the coverage to the family members.
This raises questions about the viability of an employer-based health care system. In the study, having a parent covered by only public insurance was associated with better children’s coverage rates.
"When entire families have access to health insurance, children and adolescents not only benefit from more consistent insurance coverage but also have improved access to a regular source of care and higher rates of preventive services," the authors from Oregon Health Science University write.
A recent report by the Commonwealth Fund finds an estimated 72 million adults in the United States are having problems paying their medical bills, forcing them to make tough financial choices. Some reportedly are falling so far behind, they now face collection agencies as a result. #