A study conducted by University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine researchers found that the number of underinsured children increased by 2.4 million from 2016 to 2019.
The researchers found that children’s underinsurance was due to an increase in inadequate insurance rates rather than an increase in uninsured or inconsistent insurance coverage. Families with children with special health care needs and private insurance have been particularly affected.
The study analyzed data from the National Children’s Health Survey, an annual survey of the physical and mental health of newborns up to the age of 17. Underinsured people were defined as those who did not have adequate insurance, meaning that they allowed children to see claimants and protected them against unreasonable expenses. High reimbursable fees have been a major contributor to the increase in under-insurance, and these high fees may force families to delay or forgo custody of their child.
Researchers suggest that insurers are increasingly shifting costs to individuals and families through higher copayments and premiums and, increasingly, through high deductible plans. This may explain why children with private health insurance were more likely to be underinsured than those with public plans, such as Medicaid or the Children’s Medicare program.
The study also found an increase in the rate of underinsurance among white children from middle-income and highly educated families. In addition, children with more complex special health needs were more likely to be underinsured than those with less complex or no health needs.
The researchers say that to tackle the problem of children’s underinsurance, large-scale policy reforms such as expanding Medicaid eligibility or creating a universal healthcare system Assurance program for all American children may be required. Smaller policy changes, such as making it easier to apply for and maintain Medicaid or cash assistance programs to help cover personal expenses, would also be beneficial.