Covering Parents is Good For Kids: Continuous Coverage is even Better

By Tara Mancini

A new study published in the Maternal Child Health Journal finds a positive relationship between continuity of coverage for adults and the likelihood that a child in the same household is also insured.

The 30-month longitudinal study was conducted between 2003 and 2006 by researchers in Oregon who identified adults eligible for the Oregon Health Plan before administrative and cost-sharing changes went into effect in February 2003.  Study participants were asked to report whether they were insured at 3 different intervals, and whether any children in the same household were insured at the end of the study.

Not surprisingly, the longer an adult was insured, the more likely they were to report that all of the children in the household were insured at the conclusion of the study. For example, 91.4% of adults who were insured between 28-30 months reported that all of the children were insured at 30 months in contrast to 83.7% of adults who were insured for 19-27 months, 74.3% of adults who were insured between 10-18 months, and 70.8% of adults who were insured between 0-9 months.

Also, adults with less insurance continuity were more likely to report that at least one of their children were uninsured at 30 months, and this pattern was observed in the final statistical model.  Compared to adults who report having continuous health insurance coverage, adults with 0-9 months or 10-18 months of coverage report higher odds of having at least one child who is uninsured. In addition, adults whose primary language isn’t English had higher odds of reporting at least one child was not insured at the end of the study.

This research is especially notable as we try to reach the approximately 4.4 million children in the country who are eligible for Medicaid/CHIP but are unenrolled. It suggests that outreach and enrollment strategies may still miss children in places where affordable coverage is not available for low-income adults. In addition, the researchers propose that children may also benefit if more assistance is provided to non-English speakers so that they maintain their coverage once enrolled.

To learn more about this topic, visit CCF’s series:  Covering Parents is Good for Kids.