Health insurance patterns and transitions: consequences for the physical and economic well-being of individuals and families

Nielsen, Robert
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Despite an extensive network of private and public health insurance options, an estimated 43.6 million Americans, or 15% of the population, were uninsured at some point in 2002. Of particular concern to many is that despite public policy efforts over the past several years, approximately 8.5 million, or just under 12%, of all children under 18 years of age, were uninsured throughout 2002. Being uninsured presents a number of potential risks, particularly to one's ability to access primary and preventive health care procedures, maintain personal health, and survive health-related financial shocks. This research uses the 1996 Panel of the Survey of Income and Program Participation to investigate the following questions: (1) What are the correlates of individual and familial health insurance patterns, particularly among those who are uninsured? (2) How does the economic well-being of families that are ever uninsured differ from families that are continuously-insured? (3) How does the physical well-being of adults and children in families that are ever uninsured differ from the physical well-being of adults and children in continuously-insured families? The results indicate that family-level insurance status over the course of the analysis period is associated with economic well-being, as indicated by reports of food insecurity. If any member of a family ever was uninsured during the analysis period, the probability that the family experienced food insecurity increased approximately 40% relative to families that did not have a family member go without insurance. Family-level health insurance status also is found to be associated with adult physical well-being, as indicated by the adult's current health status. The probability that an adult member of an ever-uninsured family has fair or poor health is approximately 40% higher than adults who are members of continuously-insured families. Finally, a relatively weak association between family-level health insurance status and the current health status of children is identified at the bivariate level, but the effect disappears in multivariate analyses.

Human development and family studies (Family policy), Family policy, Human development and family studies