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More Children are Uninsured

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Snapshot for September 27, 2006.

More Children are Uninsured

By Elise Gould

The rate of uninsured children in the United States has increased for the first time in seven years, from 10.8% in 2004 to 11.2% in 2005. From 2004 to 2005, the number of uninsured children grew by 361,000 to a total of 8.3 million uninsured children.

Children have experienced declines in employer-provided health insurance in each of the past five years, but public health insurance programs—Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)—have offset this trend, preventing many children from becoming uninsured when their employment-based benefits were lost. But in 2005, this phenomenon reversed as fewer children were insured by either employer-provided or publicly provided health insurance (see Figure). 

Employment-based health insurance and Medicaid/SCHIP, children under 18

Children experienced declines in employer-provided health insurance coverage of 5.1 percentage points in the last five years. In 2000, 65.6% of children had employer-provided coverage, whereas in 2005 only 60.5% did. While the number of children insured by Medicaid or SCHIP increased from 2000 to 2004, 184,000 fewer children (nearly 1%) had Medicaid or SCHIP in 2005 than in 2004.

The weakening of the public safety net combined with the continued erosion in employer-provided coverage is pushing more children off the rolls of the insured.

The author thanks Jin Dai and Rob Gray for their research assistance on this Snapshot.


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