Health Insurance Coverage of Dependent Children Declines, Latino Access Down Sharply

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April 2004

Health Insurance Coverage of Dependent Children Declines, Latino Access Down Sharply

For Immediate Release: May 10, 2004

Contact: Debi Kar, 202-387-5080

The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) has released a series of data briefs looking at access to health insurance in the US as Cover the Uninsured Week gets under way this week.

Health insurance coverage has fallen from the economic peak in 1999 through the recovery in 2002, with nearly 70 million Americans lacking coverage at some point in 2002.

Dependents (both children and adults) living with someone with employer-provided health insurance are now less likely to be on that employer plan than they were a few years ago. Children, in particular are increasingly not on an employer-based plan -- even if their parents remain on such a plan. Many children of workers on employer-based health plans have switched to Medicaid or no coverage at all.

  • The expansion of Medicaid through SCHIP was insufficient to overcome the loss of employer-provided health insurance and health insurance coverage fell among children over the economic contraction. However, more children of the working poor do have Medicaid now than a decade ago.
  • While most Americans are covered either through their employer or the employer of a family member, nearly 40 percent of the population goes without employer provided coverage for at least part of the year.
  • Low-wage workers are about half as likely as high-wage workers to have employer-provided health insurance from either their own employer or a family member's. Less than half (47.3 percent) of low-wage workers had any employer-provided health insurance during all of 2002.
  • Latinos are more likely than other racial/ethnic groups to lack coverage. Legislative solutions must focus on increasing access to health insurance as well as ensuring equity across age, race, and employment status.
  • Young adults (age 18 to 25) are less likely than other adults to have health insurance coverage. This group is least likely to have employer-provided coverage and coverage as a dependent has fallen sharply over the economic contraction.

This in-depth analysis of access to health insurance by Heather Boushey, Joseph Wright, and Marya Murray Diaz, has found that lack of coverage is due to a number of factors, the most important being cutbacks in employer-provided health insurance. This has resulted in unequal access to health insurance. Policy responses to declining coverage have so far been inadequate.

The full set of briefs, click here.

The data used in this analysis is from CEPR's analysis of the Survey of Income and Program Participation. CEPR creates user-friendly Data Sets from this survey and makes the data and programs available to other researchers via ceprDATA.org.

This project was funded by a generous grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.