Children's Health Coverage: A Quarter-Century of Change

September/October 2004
Health Affairs , Vol. 23, No. 5
Peter J. Cunningham, James Kirby

Data from a series of medical spending surveys over the past twenty-five years show that uninsurance rates for children have fallen to levels not seen since the late 1970s (about 8 percent). Rates of uninsurance have fallen in particular for poor children. Deteriorating family economic circumstances,along with a weakened safety net, contributed to the decrease of private insurance coverage and rising uninsurance rates between 1977 and 1987. Although family circumstances have stabilized since the late 1980s, high annual increases in health insurance costs have continued to erode private coverage. Public coverage expansions have reversed the surge in uninsurance rates during 1977–1987.

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