Children with health insurance are less likely to receive needed services if their parents are uninsured

Research Activities, May 2010, No. 357

Insuring children without insuring their parents does not solve the problem of children's unmet health needs, a new study finds. Insured children living with at least one parent in families where the children were insured, but the parents were not, were more than twice as likely to not have a usual source of care than insured children with insured parents. In similar fashion, insured children with uninsured parents were 11 percent more likely to have unmet health needs and 20 percent more likely to have never received any preventive counseling services. Insured children with one insured and one uninsured parent were 18 percent more likely to have had no doctor's visit in the past year than insured children with two insured parents.

A team led by Jennifer E. DeVoe, M.D., D.Phil., of Oregon Health and Science University, analyzed data on 43,509 individuals who responded to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's (AHRQ's) Medical Expenditure Panel Survey-Household Component (MEPS-HC) for 2002-2006. Survey respondents were interviewed five times over 2 years. The team determined that an average of 73.6 percent of children were insured with insured parents, 8 percent of children were uninsured with uninsured parents, and 10 percent of children were insured with uninsured parents.

These findings suggest that the long-term improvement of health care for children cannot be met by covering children alone. The researchers note that those States that have expanded public coverage to parents of covered children have maintained more stable health care. The study was funded in part by AHRQ (HS16181).

More details are in "Children's receipt of health care services and family health insurance patterns," by Dr. DeVoe, Carrie J. Tillotson, M.P.H., and Lorraine S. Wallace, Ph.D., in the Annals of Family Medicine 7(5), pp. 406-413, 2009.

Current as of May 2010
Internet Citation: Children with health insurance are less likely to receive needed services if their parents are uninsured: Research Activities, May 2010, No. 357. May 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://archive.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/may10/0510RA2.html