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America's Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2013

Health Insurance Coverage

Children with health insurance, whether public or private, are more likely than children without insurance to have a regular and accessible source of health care. The percentage of children who have health insurance coverage for at least part of the year is one measure of the extent to which families can obtain preventive care or health care for a sick or injured child.

Indicator HC1: Percentage of children ages 0–17 covered by health insurance at some time during the year by type of health insurance, 1987–2011
Percentage of children ages 0–17 covered by health insurance at some time during the year by type of health insurance, 1987–2011

NOTE: Public health insurance for children consists primarily of Medicaid, but also includes Medicare, Children's Health Insurance Programs (CHIP), and Tricare, the health benefit program for members of the armed forces and their dependents. Estimates beginning in 1999 include follow-up questions to verify health insurance status. Children are considered to be covered by health insurance if they had public or private coverage any time during the year. The data from 1996 to 1999 have been revised since initially published. For more information, see http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/hlthins/data/usernote/index.html. The data for 1999 through 2009 were revised to reflect the results of enhancements to the editing process. See http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/hlthins/data/usernote/index.html. Implementation of Census 2010-based population controls began in 2010.

SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau, unpublished tables from the Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplements.

  • In 2011, about 91 percent of children had health insurance coverage at some point during the year, which was not statistically different from the percentage in 2010. In each year since 1987, between 85 and 91 percent of children had health insurance.
  • The number of children without health insurance at any time during 2011 was 7 million (9 percent of all children).41
  • In 2011, approximately 59 percent of children were covered by private health insurance at some time during the year, and 39 percent were covered by public health insurance at some time during the year (both estimates include the children covered by both public and private insurance at some time during the year; hence, the estimates sum to more than the estimated 91 percent of children with coverage).
  • Hispanic children were less likely to have health insurance, compared with White, non-Hispanic or Black children. In 2011, about 85 percent of Hispanic children were covered at some time during the year by health insurance, compared with 93 percent of White, non-Hispanic children and 90 percent of Black children.2
  • The type of insurance varied by the age of the child: younger children were more likely to have public health insurance than older children, while older children were more likely to have private health insurance than younger children. The percent of children covered by public health insurance has increased.

table icon HC1 HTML Table

2 Federal surveys now give respondents the option of reporting more than one race. Therefore, two basic ways of defining a race group are possible. A group such as Black may be defined as those who reported Black and no other race (the race-alone or single-race concept) or as those who reported Black regardless of whether they also reported another race (the race-alone or- in-combination concept). This indicator shows data using the first approach (race-alone). Use of the single-race population does not imply that it is the preferred method of presenting or analyzing data. The U.S. Census Bureau uses a variety of approaches. Data on race and Hispanic origin are collected separately. Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.

41 DeNavas-Walt, C., Proctor, B.D., and Smith, J.C. (2012, September). Income, poverty, and health insurance coverage in the United States: 2011 (Current Population Reports, P60-243). Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/p60-243.pdf.