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Has Public Health Insurance for Older Children Reduced Disparities in Access to Care and Health Outcomes?

  • Janet Currie
  • Sandra Decker
  • Wanchuan Lin

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 to 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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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14173.

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Date of creation: Jul 2008
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Publication status: published as 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:nbr:nberwo:14173
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  1. Currie, Janet & Gruber, Jonathan, 1996. "Health Insurance Eligibility, Utilization of Medical Care, and Child Health," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 431-66, May.
  2. Anne Case & Darren Lubotsky & Christina Paxson, 2002. "Economic status and health in childhood: the origins of the gradient," Working Papers 262, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Health and Wellbeing..
  3. 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.
  4. Anna Aizer & Jeffrey Grogger, 2003. "Parental Medicaid Expansions and Health Insurance Coverage," NBER Working Papers 9907, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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. 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.
  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 1263-96, December.
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