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Has public health insurance for older children reduced disparities in access to care and health outcomes?


  • Currie, Janet
  • Decker, Sandra
  • Lin, Wanchuan


This paper investigates the effects of expanding public health insurance eligibility for older children. Using data from the National Health Interview Surveys from 1986 to 2005, we first show that although income continues to be an important predictor of children's health status, the importance of income for predicting health has fallen for children 9-17 in recent years. We then investigate the extent to which the dramatic expansions in public health insurance coverage for these children in the past decade are responsible for the decline in the importance of income. We find that while eligibility for public health insurance unambiguously improves current utilization of preventive care, it has little effect on current health status. However, we find some evidence that Medicaid eligibility in early childhood has positive effects on future health. This may indicate that adequate medical care early on puts children on a better health trajectory, resulting in better health as they grow.

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  • Currie, Janet & Decker, Sandra & Lin, Wanchuan, 2008. "Has public health insurance for older children reduced disparities in access to care and health outcomes?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(6), pages 1567-1581, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:27:y:2008:i:6:p:1567-1581

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Janet Currie & Jonathan Gruber, 1996. "Health Insurance Eligibility, Utilization of Medical Care, and Child Health," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(2), pages 431-466.
    2. Anna Aizer & Jeffrey Grogger, 2003. "Parental Medicaid Expansions and Health Insurance Coverage," NBER Working Papers 9907, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Schenker, Nathaniel & Raghunathan, Trivellore E. & Chiu, Pei-Lu & Makuc, Diane M. & Zhang, Guangyu & Cohen, Alan J., 2006. "Multiple Imputation of Missing Income Data in the National Health Interview Survey," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 101, pages 924-933, September.
    4. Dafny, Leemore & Gruber, Jonathan, 2005. "Public insurance and child hospitalizations: access and efficiency effects," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(1), pages 109-129, January.
    5. Lo Sasso, Anthony T. & Buchmueller, Thomas C., 2004. "The effect of the state children's health insurance program on health insurance coverage," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(5), pages 1059-1082, September.
    6. Anne Case & Darren Lubotsky & Christina Paxson, 2002. "Economic Status and Health in Childhood: The Origins of the Gradient," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1308-1334, December.
    7. Currie, Janet & Gruber, Jonathan, 1996. "Saving Babies: The Efficacy and Cost of Recent Changes in the Medicaid Eligibility of Pregnant Women," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(6), pages 1263-1296, December.
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    More about this item


    Medicaid Children's health;

    JEL classification:

    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior


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