Trends in Type of Health Insurance Coverage for US Children and Their Parents, 1998-2011

Acad Pediatr. 2016 Mar;16(2):192-9. doi: 10.1016/j.acap.2015.06.009. Epub 2015 Aug 18.


Objective: To examine trends in health insurance type among US children and their parents.

Methods: Using the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (1998-2011), we linked each child (n = 120,521; weighted n ≈ 70 million) with his or her parent or parents and assessed patterns of full-year health insurance type, stratified by income. We examined longitudinal insurance trends using joinpoint regression and further explored these trends with adjusted regression models.

Results: When comparing 1998 to 2011, the percentage of low-income families with both child and parent or parents privately insured decreased from 29.2% to 19.1%, with an estimated decline of -0.86 (95% confidence interval, -1.10, -0.63) unadjusted percentage points per year; middle-income families experienced a drop from 74.5% to 66.3%, a yearly unadjusted percentage point decrease of -0.73 (95% confidence interval, -0.98, -0.48). The discordant pattern of publicly insured children with uninsured parents increased from 10.4% to 27.2% among low-income families and from 1.4% to 6.7% among middle-income families. Results from adjusted models were similar to joinpoint regression findings.

Conclusions: During the past decade, low- and middle-income US families experienced a decrease in the percentage of child-parent pairs with private health insurance and pairs without insurance. Concurrently, there was a rise in discordant coverage patterns-mainly publicly insured children with uninsured parents.

Keywords: access to care; family health; health insurance; uninsured.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Children's Health Insurance Program / trends
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility / trends*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Insurance Coverage / trends*
  • Insurance, Health / trends*
  • Male
  • Medically Uninsured*
  • Middle Aged
  • Parents*
  • Poverty
  • United States
  • Young Adult