, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 69-80

Health Insurance Coverage of the Children of Immigrants in the United States

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Abstract

Objectives: This study assesses the health insurance coverage of children of immigrants in the United States and variations among immigrant groups. Method: The study uses data from the March supplements of the 1994 and 1996 Current Population Survey to compare health insurance coverage of children who report foreign parentage. Separate logistic regressions are conducted to estimate the likelihood of being covered by any insurance, public insurance, and private insurance. Results: 27.3% of all children of immigrants are without health insurance, 34.1% are on public insurance, and 44.3% have private insurance. Foreign-born children who have not yet become U.S. citizens are the most likely to be without health insurance (38.0%). Many of these children are not covered because their parents are unable to find jobs that provide coverage and Medicaid fails to enroll as many of them as possible. Overall, the children's chances of being covered by any health insurance vary little according to when their parents came to this country. However, children of recent immigrants are more likely to rely on public health insurance (40.1% vs. 24.8%) and less likely to be covered through private sources (36.8% vs. 60.6%) than those of established immigrants. Among immigrant groups, children of Haitian (48.4%) and Korean (45.3%) immigrants are at the highest risks of being uninsured. Both children of the Dominican Republic (65.9%) and Laos (83.3%) report high rates of public insurance coverage. Conclusions: Greater disparity in health insurance coverage among children of immigrants is expected once the new welfare reform bills take effect. In particular, noncitizen children, children of recent immigrants, illegal immigrants, and Dominican Republican immigrants will be affected most. Efforts aimed at reducing the harm should target these vulnerable groups.