While Children’s Insurance Rates Stagnate Nationally, Some Communities Show Improvements, Study Says
Boston, Little Rock, Ark., and Syracuse, N.Y., each experienced a "significant decline" in the percentage of uninsured children between 1996-1997 and 1998-1999, according to a new study from the Center for Studying Health System Change. The study is part of HSC's Community Tracking Study that surveys care providers, consumers and employers every two years to "track trends in the health care system." Focusing on 60 "nationally representative communities," the study notes that Boston's percentage of uninsured children dropped from 7% to 3%, Little Rock's percentage fell from 17% to 12% and Syracuse's percentage dropped from 7% to 4%. Miami, Greenville, S.C., and Cleveland also experienced declines, but the study notes that those decreases were not "statistically significant." Other communities, such as Indianapolis, Lansing, Mich., Phoenix and Orange County, Calif., had "no statistically significant change in uninsurance rates," reflecting a national trend. The increases in number of insured children might be due to a "sharp" rise in coverage through Medicaid and CHIP. Nationally, however, decreases in private coverage have negated positive effects from increased enrollment in public programs. Thus, the study notes that the overall result "was no net gain in coverage among low-income children nationally between 1996-1997 and 1998-1999" (HSC release, 10/31). The study is available at http://www.hschange.org/CONTENT/276/.This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.