Not only are the children of the 15.3 million unemployed Americans feeling the impact of financial hardship brought on by the economic recession, many of them may be experiencing an avoidable loss of health care coverage, according to research by the Child Policy Research Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
“For every 1,000 jobs lost, 311 privately-insured children lose health insurance coverage,” Gerry Fairbrother, PhD, associate director of the Child Policy Research Center at Cincinnati Children’s and a professor at the University of Cincinnati, stated in a press release. “As if this is not alarming enough, our data indicates that for every 1,000 jobs lost to families earning less than 200% of the federal poverty level, 456 privately-insured children lose coverage. These data are significant because they show that the most vulnerable privately-insured children experience the greatest probability of losing or experiencing an unnecessary gap in their coverage.”
The study’s authors – who used a large national dataset containing information from randomly-selected people who were interviewed 5 times during the course of 2 years – took note of loss of health care coverage for children during a given 3-month period following parental job loss. The data indicates that 29.4%, 30.4% and 40.1% of white, black and Hispanic children became uninsured when their parents experienced job loss, respectively. This is compared to 5%, 10% and 9.1% of white, black and Hispanic children who became uninsured while their parents remained employed, respectively.
The data indicated that a high proportion of privately-insured children from all racial and ethnic groups lose insurance coverage when their parents lose their jobs. The likelihood of Hispanic children, especially those who are young, poor and living on the West Coast, losing their coverage was the highest at 52%. In total, the study found that 30% of all privately-insured children whose parents lost jobs are considered low income.