Context: Millions of US children and adolescents lack health insurance coverage. Efforts to expand their insurance often focus on extending public coverage to uninsured parents. Less is known about the uninsured whose parents already have coverage.
Objective: To identify predictors of uninsurance among US children and adolescents with insured parents.
Design and setting: Cross-sectional and full-year analyses of pooled 2002-2005 data from the nationally representative Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS).
Participants: Children and adolescents younger than 19 years in 4 yearly MEPS files with positive full-year weights who had at least 1 parent residing in the same household. There were 39,588 in the unweighted cross-sectional analysis and 39,710 in the unweighted full-year analysis.
Main outcome measure: Prevalence of uninsurance among children and adolescents with at least 1 insured parent; predictors of uninsurance among children with at least 1 insured parent.
Results: In the cross-sectional study population, 1380 of 39,588 children and adolescents were uninsured with at least 1 insured parent (weighted prevalence, 3.3%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 3.0%-3.6%). In multivariate analyses of children and adolescents with at least 1 insured parent, those uninsured were more likely Hispanic (odds ratio [OR], 1.58; 95% CI, 1.23-2.03) than white, non-Hispanic; low income (OR, 2.02; 95% CI, 1.42-2.88) and middle income (OR, 1.48; 95% CI, 1.09-2.03) than high income; from single-parent homes (OR, 1.99; 95% CI, 1.59-2.49) than from homes with 2 married parents; and living with parents who had less than a high school education (OR, 1.44; 95% CI, 1.10-1.89) than those with at least 1 parent who had completed high school. Those whose parents had public coverage were less likely to be uninsured (OR, 0.64; 95% CI, 0.43-0.96) than were those whose parents reported private health insurance. These predictors remained significant in full-year analyses. Similar patterns of vulnerability were also found among a subset of uninsured children with privately covered parents.
Conclusions: Among all US children, more than 3% were uninsured with at least 1 insured parent. Predictors of such uninsurance included having low and middle income. Having a parent covered by only public insurance was associated with better children's coverage rates.