Uninsurance Rate Remains Virtually Unchanged for Children and Nonelderly Adults Between 1997 and 1999, Report States
Between 1997 and 1999, employer-sponsored health care
coverage of low-income adults improved, while insurance rates for
both children and nonelderly adults uninsurance rates remained
about the same, according to the Urban Institute's 1999 Snapshots
of America's Families II. The study uses data from the 1999
National Survey of America's Families to examine family
"well-being" -- including health coverage status -- in 13 states:
Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan,
Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Washington
and Wisconsin. The NSAF focuses on the status of low-income
families, or families making below 200% of the poverty level.
Although overall uninsurance rates remained stagnant, the "share"
of low-income adults with employer-sponsored insurance grew
"significantly," the report notes, adding that the uninsurance
rate for low-income adults decreased from 37% in 1997 to 35% in
1999. Conversely, a decrease in employer-sponsored insurance led
to a 2 percentage point increase in the number of uninsured
children with family incomes between 200% and 300% of the poverty
Urban Institute release, 10/24). The report notes that its
data show a lower percentage of children and nonelderly adults
being uninsured than did the Census Bureau's Current Population
Survey. The reason for this might be because CPS measures
insurance coverage during the calendar year prior to the survey,
while NSAF measures coverage at the time of the survey (
Snapshots foreword, 10/24).
The report also found the following information:
- in 1999, 16% of adults lacked insurance, a "slight but statistically insignificant decline" since 1997;
- uninsurance rates for adults fell only in Alabama, Colorado and Massachusetts;
- although most states experienced increases in number of individuals covered through employer-sponsored insurance, no state with a low rate of employer-sponsored insurance in 1997 improved enough to "move their adult uninsurance rate to significantly below the national average in 1999;"
- compared to higher-income adults, low-income adults were worse off in 1999 in terms of health care access and health status (Zuckerman et al., "Health Insurance, Access and Health Status of Nonelderly Adults," 10/24).
- nationally, 12.5% of children lacked health coverage in 1999, or an increase of 0.3 percentage points since 1997 -- a change that was not statistically significant;
- lower-income children were more likely to be uninsured, with 22% of low-income children lacking insurance in 1999, compared to 6% of higher income children;
- between 1997 and 1999, children below the federal poverty level lost Medicaid/CHIP/state coverage, but gained employer-sponsored insurance;
- in 1999, older children tended to have higher uninsurance rates than younger children;
- uninsurance rates for low-income children varied from a low of 7% in Massachusetts to a high of 37% in Texas;
- Alabama, Colorado and Massachusetts experienced "statistically significant reductions in uninsurance rates for low-income children;
- lower-income children are "worse off" than children from families with higher-incomes with respect to access to care and health status (Kenney et al., "Health Insurance, Access and Health Status of Children," 10/24). The full report on children's health is available at http://newfederalism.urban.org/nsaf/child-health.html.