Health Insurance or Food on the Table?

One in three children in the United States lacked health insurance for at least one month in 1995 and 1996, according to a study by the health consumer group Families USA.

Ninety percent of the 23 million children living without insurance are from families in which the head of the household worked all or part of the two-year period covered by the study.

Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, commented, “America’s children live in families where the breadwinners work hard, pay taxes and play by the rules. But they don’t get health coverage on the job, for themselves or their children. And they can’t afford to pay for it out of pocket.”

The states with the highest ratio of uninsured children for all or part of 1995-96 were: California (3.4 million), Texas (2.6 million), New York (1.5 million), Florida (1.3 million), Illinois (972,000), Pennsylvania (867,000), Ohio (773,000), Michigan (670,000), Georgia (664,000) and New Jersey (553,000).

The study also found that:

  • 47 percent of the children surveyed were uninsured 12 months or longer during the two-year survey period.
  • About 85 percent of parents whose children were uninsured were not covered by any type of health insurance at some point over the 24-month period of the study.
  • One out of three uninsured children lived in a family with an income of $28,800 or more.

“Several studies show that employers are less and less likely to offer health insurance for workers’ family members,” said Cheryl Fish-Parcham, the health policy analyst for Families USA and the coordinator of the study. “Many companies that do offer family coverage now require the employee to pay more of the premium. For some workers it’s a choice between health insurance for the kids or food on the table.”

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