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Study: Kids lose health insurance when parents lose job

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Stacey Vanek-Smith: Adults aren’t the only ones feeling the hardship of the recession. A study out today finds that when a parent loses a job, kids lose their health coverage. April Dembosky reports.


April Dembosky: For every 1,000 jobs lost, more than 300 privately-insured children lose their health coverage. That’s according to a new report in this month’s issue of Health Affairs.

Gerry Fairbrother led the study at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. She said many of these children are eligible for federal health insurance programs like Medicaid. The problem is, parents aren’t signing them up.

GERRY FAIRBROTHER: Possibly the families are less familiar with public assistance programs and the rules.

Many states have tried to remove disincentives to enrollment like waiting periods, complicated forms, and burdensome proof-of-income requirements. But these days, with so many cuts to state budgets, families can be confused about what’s available. Jocelyn Guyer directs the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown:

JOCELYN GUYER: Once word’s out on the street that there’s a cutback, it creates enormous upheaval in an outreach effort. It’s too much to ask families to figure out the nuanced difference in funding streams.

Researchers hope their findings will inspire more aggressive awareness campaigns.

I’m April Dembosky for Marketplace.

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