In the last decade, employers' offers of health insurance to parents with lower incomes have fallen three times as fast as offers to parents who earn more, a new study by the State Health Access Data Assistance Center at the University of Minnesota finds.
Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the report, Whose Kids Are Covered? A State-By-State Look at Uninsured Children (12 pages, PDF), found that only 47 percent of parents in families earning less than $40,000 a year are offered health insurance through their employer — a 9 percent drop since 1997. Meanwhile, offers of health insurance to parents in families earning $80,000 or more have held steady at about 78 percent.
According to the report, 75 percent of uninsured children live with someone who works full-time. The states with the highest percentage of uninsured children are Texas (20.3 percent), Florida (16.9 percent), New Mexico (16.6. percent), Nevada (16.4 percent), and Montana (16.2 percent); those with the lowest percentage include Vermont (5.6 percent), New Hampshire (6 percent), Michigan (6.1 percent), Hawaii (6.2 percent), Minnesota (6.5 percent), and Nebraska (6.5 percent). Released in conjunction with the Princeton, New Jersey-based foundation's Cover the Uninsured campaign, the report provides support for advocates who are urging Congress to allocate more funds to the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).
Signed into law in 1997, SCHIP provides each state with federal funds to create a health insurance program for vulnerable children. Many of America's estimated nine million uninsured children would likely be eligible for free or low-cost insurance coverage through SCHIP, which is up for reauthorization this year.
"Because of SCHIP, millions of children can see doctors when they are sick and get the check-ups and prescription medicines they need. That's an important investment in our nation's future," said RWJF president and CEO Risa Lavizzo-Mourey. "Many parents who work but cannot afford health insurance, or are not offered coverage through their jobs, can make sure their children get the health care they need because of these programs. Healthy children are better prepared to learn in school and succeed in life."