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Med Care Res Rev. 2011 Oct;68(5):523-36. doi: 10.1177/1077558711398877.

Covered today, sick tomorrow? Trends and correlates of children's health insurance instability.

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School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


Many children with health insurance will experience gaps in coverage over time, potentially reducing their access to and use of preventive health care services. This article uses the Survey of Income and Program Participation to examine how the stability of children's health insurance changed between 1990 and 2005 and to identify dynamic aspects of family life associated with transitions in coverage. Children's health insurance instability has increased since the early 1990s, due to greater movement between insured and uninsured states and between private and public insurance coverage. Changes in the employment and marital status of the family head are highly associated with an increased risk of a child losing and gaining public and private coverage, largely in hypothesized directions. The exception is that marital dissolution and job loss are associated with an increased probability of a child losing public insurance, despite there being no clear policy explanation for such a relationship.

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