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Monday, August 29, 2011

Characteristics of Children With and Without Health Insurance, 2009

Carol Rapaport
Analyst in Health Care Financing

About 8.3 million children under age 19 in the United States, or 10.4% of children in this age group, had no health insurance for at least some of 2009. (Similarly, about 10.3% of children in this age group had no health insurance for at least some of 2008.) Children living in families below the poverty threshold, children not living with at least one parent, Hispanic children, and children whose parents did not have health insurance were especially likely to be uninsured. On the other hand, children whose parents had employer-sponsored coverage were themselves likely to have employer-sponsored coverage. An extensive body of research suggests that children without health insurance are, on average, less likely than insured children to have the recommended number of well-baby and well-child medical visits and less likely to receive standard immunizations.

This report examines the characteristics of insured and uninsured children in 2009 (the latest year for which data are available) using data from the (March) Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the 2010 Current Population Survey (CPS). The first part of the report compares broad groups of children. Those particularly likely to be uninsured in 2009 included the groups mentioned above, as well as children between ages 13 and 18, children living in the South, and children who are not U.S citizens. Groups particularly likely to receive publicly funded insurance included children of single mothers, black children, and children in families with incomes lower than the federal poverty threshold.

The second section of the report compares two methods of measuring uninsured children. Using family structure as an example, the report analyzes uninsurance both in terms of the percentage of each family status in the total pool of uninsured children (e.g., 58.9% of the pool of uninsured children were in two-parent families) and in terms of the percentage of each family status who were uninsured (e.g., 8.3% of those in two-parent families were uninsured). This difference may be important for policy makers considering policy options to reduce the number of uninsured children.

The final part of the report examines the rate of uninsured children under 18 over the past 10 years (the years for which comparable data are available). The uninsurance rate has been relatively flat over this period. This relative constancy in the children’s uninsurance rate, however, masks a decline in children covered by employer-sponsored insurance and a concurrent increase in children covered by public insurance.

Date of Report: August 22, 2011
Number of Pages: 15
Order Number: R41966
Price: $29.95

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