THE UNINSURED: Study Finds No Change for Children
Since 1997, employer-sponsored health care coverage of low-income adults improved, while overall uninsurance rates for both children and nonelderly adults remained about the same, according to the Urban Institute's 1999 Snapshots of America's Families II. The study uses data from the 1999 National Survey of America's Families to examine family "well- being" in 13 states: Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. The NASAF focuses on the status of low-income families, or families making below 200% of the poverty level. Although overall uninsurance rates for the group remained stagnant, the "share" of low-income adults with employer-sponsored insurance grew "significantly," the report notes, adding that the uninsurance rate for low-income adults decreased from 37% in 1997 to 35% in 1999. Conversely, a decrease in employer-sponsored insurance led to a two percentage point increase in the number of uninsured children with family incomes between 200% and 300% of the poverty level ( Urban Institute release, 10/24). The report notes that its data show a lower percentage of children and nonelderly adults being uninsured than did the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. The reason for this might be because CPS measures insurance coverage during the calendar year prior to the survey, while NSAF measures coverage at the time of the survey ( Snapshots foreward, 10/24).
Health Status, Coverage for Children and Adults
The report also found the following information:
- in 1999, 16% of adults lacked insurance, a "slight but statistically insignificant decline" since 1997;
- uninsurance rates for adults fell only in Alabama, Colorado and Massachusetts;
- although most states experienced increases in number of individuals covered through employer-sponsored insurance, no state with a low rate of employer-sponsored insurance in 1997 improved enough to "move their adult uninsurance rate to significantly below the national average in 1999;"
- compared to higher-income adults, low-income adults were worse off in 1999 in terms of health care access and health status (Zuckerman et al., "Health Insurance, Access and Health Status of Nonelderly Adults," 10/24).
- nationally, 12.5% of children lacked health coverage in 1999, or an increase of 0.3 percentage points since 1997 -- a change that was not statistically significant;
- lower-income children were more likely to be uninsured, with 22% of low-income children lacking insurance in 1999, compared to 6% of higher-income children;
- between 1997 and 1999, children below the federal poverty level lost Medicaid/CHIP/state coverage, but gained employer-sponsored insurance;
- in 1999, older children tended to have higher uninsurance rates than younger children;
- uninsurance rates for low-income children varied from a low of 7% in Massachusetts to a high of 37% in Texas;
- Alabama, Colorado and Massachusetts experienced "statistically significant reductions in the uninsurance rates for low-income children;
- lower-income children are "worse off" than children from families with higher-incomes with respect to access to care and health status (Kenney et al., "Health Insurance, Access and Health Status of Children," 10/24).