Health Team

Study: Many uninsured children have insured parents

Posted October 21, 2008

More than 9 million children across the country are uninsured, according to the Journal of American Medical Association.

Researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University studied about 40,000 of those children and found that many come from families with working parents who do have insurance coverage.

“We found about 3 percent of children in the U.S. are uninsured with an insured parent. And that translates to over 3 million children,” said Dr. Jennifer DeVoe, who's in the Department of Family Medicine at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Ore.

The study appears this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

“The largest predictor of children being uninsured with an insured parent was being in the middle income, earning somewhere between about $25,000 and $75,000 a year for a family of four,” DeVoe said.

Some families' earn too much to qualify for state insurance programs, but not enough to afford adding their kids to employer-sponsored policies.

Other families do qualify for help, but don't sign up for numerous reasons, including because the enrollment process can be confusing.

Fran Denham is covered through her husband’s health policy, but it was too expensive to add their grandchild, whom they raised.

“It is very stressful to have a kid that you’re responsible for and you can’t take care of him the way you need to,” Denham said. “You just hope and hope and hope that nothing happens bad, because if it does, you're up that creek – that nasty, dirty creek – without a paddle."

The four-year study also identified several factors associated with families that have an insured parent and uninsured children, including the likelihood the family is Hispanic, lives in the southern or western United States and has parents who did not finish high school.


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  • ERRN Oct 23, 2008

    momeee and msudawg- I totally agree. I work in healthcare and EVERY day I see parents bring their uninsured kids in for treatment. They also bring in their name brand sneakers, portable playstations, false nails and bling. Should I continue? It's all about priorities. I work to provide the necesities of life, and hope I have enough left over for something extra. It seems that many people work to buy the luxuries in life and depend on the government to provide the necesities. When did this countries core values of capitalism, hard work and personal responsibilty go down the toilet. It's scary, but if we don't do something fast, we'll end up just like Europe.

  • ncchrisncchris Oct 23, 2008

    In the US we have an employer-based healthcare system -- it doesn't work very well and that is part of the problem. The grandmother in their article would have only had to call her local social services office and applied for her grandchild to be covered with Medicaid - only a parent's income is counted. So, if, she raied him (not adopted), then he would have been eligible under NC Medicaid Law without counting her or her spouse's income. Not sure about other states, but I would think their regs would be similar since it is based on Federal policies. If in reality, people can't figure out how to apply for Medicaid or NC Health Choice for their children, there are case managers or even the free Careline in NC to walk you through the process. Info to provide: Birth certificates for the kids, proof of address (2 forms) like utility bill & rental contract or mortgage paperwork, and one months worth of paystubs or a letter from employer with the wage inforamtion(if parents work & in home).

  • whatelseisnew Oct 22, 2008

    If you can't afford the insurance, then I guess you don't have it. This is and always will be a non-issue. But in our new, society where many people believe someone else should pay, you will probably get your wish. Then you will recall the old saying - be careful what you ask for; you just might get it.

  • SMR Oct 22, 2008

    You are all missing the point. Health insurance, like all insurance, should be for catastrophic illness, or injury. Let's go back to the days of paying for your health care when you go to the doctor and if you get really sick, then insurance kicks in. Insurance does not cover car tires, or light bulbs, why should health insurance cover flu shots and immunizations. If you choose your doctor based upon the cost you can afford you will drive down health care cost for most and the wealthy can buy a better plan/coverage if they choose (I don't drive a Ferrari either, but some do)

    The other problem is people using the emergency room for the primary doctor. The ER is 5 times more expensive (even for just a check up)per patient (due to insurance/qualifications, etc.) to cover than a traditional doctors office.

  • tracya3904 Oct 22, 2008

    I dont have insurance but I made sure that my son does.

  • momeeee Oct 22, 2008

    2kids1hub - Not being judgemental, but just stating facts. Not many these days have a lot extra. Just saying that health insurance is one of the necessities. I think people in general keep up with the Jones too much, perhaps if their mortgage wasnt $2K/mo they could afford health care!

  • 2kidz1hub Oct 22, 2008

    My company offers insurance for "employees only" at no cost to the employee. To add my children, my monthly premium increased to $300. To add my children and my husband the premium increased to over $500 a month. We had no choice but to pay it. But sometimes its not about the luxuries (new car, cable, etc) but about the necessities (groceries, gas, etc). Try not to be so judgemental for those who truly can't afford the additional costs.

  • jsanders Oct 22, 2008

    It is fashionable to treat health insurance as a proxy for quality of health care received. Is it just assumed that these insured parents aren't taking their uninsured kids to the doctor?

    Whatever the case, there are better ways to expand health coverage than to socialize it:

  • msudawg Oct 22, 2008

    You are so right momeeee. My husband and are are self employed and provide our own insurance and we have for many, many years. We have never been without insurance and we pay it out of pocket. We did for many, many years fall in the lower end of the middle class but made healthcare a priority.

    We have 4 children and pay about $550 per month, granted since we are done with having children we have dropped the maternity benefits and that saves an absolute fortune. I have never had a problem with my insurance payinig or telling me I couldn't go to the doctor. All the kids immunizations and well check ups are covered. People do need to prioritize, do I need a brand new car or do I need health insurance for my kids.

  • momeeee Oct 22, 2008

    If you make at least 35K you should be able to afford health insurance on a normal child. If not do some sacrificing. Should be around $200/mo. What is more important - Your child or a new car & cable???