U.S. Children Have Inadequate, Inconsistent Health Insurance Coverage

Too few children are getting regular eye exams

According to a study published online Nov. 22 in JAMA Health Forum, children with public insurance have greater rates of inconsistent Health Insurance coverage but lower rates of inadequate coverage than children with private insurance.

Jamie R. Daw, Ph.D., of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York City, and colleagues assessed the sufficiency and consistency of health insurance coverage for children in the United States who were either publicly or privately insured. The study included information on 203,691 youngsters, 34.5 percent of whom were covered by public insurance.

The researchers discovered that when comparing publicly insured children to commercially insured children, publicly insured children had greater rates of inconsistent coverage (4.2 versus 1.4 percent) and lower rates of inadequate coverage (12.2 versus 33.0 percent). During the COVID-19 public health emergency (2020 to 2021 versus 2016 to 2019), inconsistent insurance declined by 42% for publicly covered children and by 6% for commercially insured children.

“The findings of this cross-sectional study indicate that insurance gaps are a particular problem for publicly insured children, whereas insurance inadequacy and, particularly, out-of-pocket costs are a challenge for commercially insured children,” the authors write. “Both challenges improved during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Improving children’s health coverage after the public health emergency will require policy solutions that target the unique needs of commercially and publicly insured children.”

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