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Children With Health Insurance: 2001

Report Number P60-224
Shailesh Bhandari and Elizabeth Gifford
Component ID: #ti889711432

Introduction

Whether children have health insurance coverage has attracted much attention from policymakers and the public in recent years. Most children have health insurance from private sources, mainly through employment of a parent. Youth in low-income families often have coverage through the medicaid program, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), or another related state-based health insurance program.

The medicaid program began in 1965 and was designed as a federal-state partnership to equalize access to health care for groups of low-income individuals (primarily children, pregnant women, and the elderly) as well as individuals with certain disabling conditions. Expansions of the medicaid program throughout the 1980s and 1990s targeted children in low-income families, allowing more children to qualify for the program.

More recently, as part of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, Congress established the SCHIP, which increased states’ flexibility in providing coverage to low-income children. In addition, some states operate state-funded programs that provide coverage to children. Despite these programs, 12.1 percent of youth under the age of 19 were uninsured in 2001.1 However, children’s uninsured rates in 2001 were lower than the rates in 1997 (see Figure 1).

This paper investigates patterns of children’s health insurance coverage and explores the characteristics of uninsured children. It focuses on the demographic characteristics and family composition of uninsured children in 2001. Using the data from the Current Population Survey (CPS), it provides national estimates of the number and percentage of uninsured children by age, race and ethnicity, nativity, geographic location, and by family type and family income.

The Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC) of the Current Population Survey (CPS) provides data for this report. The CPS is a nationally representative household survey of the civilian noninstitutionalized population. The ASEC is the primary source of information on income, education, work experience, and health insurance coverage. The health insurance data include person-level information on type and source of coverage. The estimates derived from the 2000, 2001, and 2002 CPS, which provide information for 1999, 2000, and 2001, respectively, are weighted using Census 2000 population controls. Estimates described in earlier health insurance reports have used weights based on the 1990 census. Additionally, the estimates in this report reflect the information from the expanded sample.2

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1 Although the Census Bureau’s standard definition of children is people aged 17 or younger, the definition in this report is 18 or younger to match the SCHIP definition.

2 In an effort to improve the reliability of state estimates of children’s health insurance coverage, in 2001 the Census Bureau increased the CPS ASEC sample size to 78,000 households. All statements in this report have undergone statistical testing, and all comparisons are significant at the 90-percent confidence level. Further information on the source and accuracy of the estimates is available at www.bls.census.gov/cps/ads/2002/ssrcacc.htm.

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