Recent health insurance trends for US families: Children gain while parents lose

Jennifer E. Devoe, Carrie J. Tillotson, Heather Angier, Lorraine S. Wallace

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


In the past decade, political and economic changes in the United States (US) have affected health insurance coverage for children and their parents. Most likely these policies have differentially affected coverage patterns for children (versus parents) and for low-income (versus high-income) families. We aimed to examine - qualitatively and quantitatively - the impact of changing health insurance coverage on US families. Primary data from interviews with Oregon families (2008-2010) were analyzed using an iterative process. Qualitative findings guided quantitative analyses of secondary data from the nationally-representative Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) (1998-2009); we used Joinpoint Regression to assess average annual percent changes (AAPC) in health insurance trends, examining child and parent status and type of coverage stratified by income. Interviewees reported that although children gained coverage, parents lost coverage. MEPS analyses confirmed this trend; the percentage of children uninsured all year decreased from 9.6 % in 1998 to 6.1 % in 2009; AAPC = -3.1 % (95 % confidence interval [CI] from -5.1 to -1.0), while the percentage of parents uninsured all year rose from 13.6 % in 1998 to 17.1 % in 2009, AAPC = 2.7 % (95 % CI 1.8-3.7). Low-income families experienced the most significant changes in coverage. Between 1998 and 2009, as US children gained health insurance, their parents lost coverage. Children's health is adversely affected when parents are uninsured. Investigation beyond children's coverage rates is needed to understand how health insurance policies and changing health insurance coverage trends are impacting children's health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1007-1016
Number of pages10
JournalMaternal and child health journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Access to care
  • Children's health care
  • Health care disparities
  • Health insurance
  • Health policy
  • Health services research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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