HHS Report Shows More American Children with Health Coverage

Progress Reflects Success of Bi-Partisan State Children’s Health Insurance Program

For Immediate Release: Monday, July 15, 2002

Contact: NCHS Press Office (301) 458-4800

E-mail: paoquery@cdc.gov

Early Release of Selected Estimates Based on Data From the 2001 NHIS [PDF – 651 KB] (Released 7/15/2002)

HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson today released an HHS report that shows American children are significantly more likely to have health insurance today than in 1997, when the bi-partisan State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) was enacted into law.

In 2001, 10.8 percent of American children did not have health coverage, down from 13.9 percent in 1997, according to the new report from HHS’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). During that period, the number of children without health insurance fell from 9.9 million to 7.8 million – meaning more than 2 million fewer children were uninsured. The reduction occurred as HHS worked with States to establish programs in every State to expand health coverage to uninsured children.

“This report shows that governors have turned SCHIP into a genuine success story, with healthier children all across America. Still, we know we must do more,” Secretary Thompson said. “Since President Bush took office, we have given governors more flexibility to use SCHIP to expand coverage in their states. We’ve also asked Congress to give States more time to use unspent SCHIP funds so we can build on our successes in getting children health coverage.”

SCHIP is a State and Federal partnership designed to help children without health insurance, many of whom come from working families with incomes too high to qualify for Medicaid but too low to afford private health insurance. According to State figures, about 4.6 million children received health coverage through SCHIP at some point in fiscal year 2001. SCHIP plans operate in all 50 states, 5 territories and the District of Columbia.

In addition, HHS has approved more than 100 amendments to improve SCHIP plans, as well as demonstration programs for 6 States to provide coverage to even more children and adults. These efforts are part of Secretary Thompson’s initiative to work with States to improve and expand benefits for low income Americans, including a special effort to clear a backlog of requests by States. Since January 2001, HHS has approved a total of more than 1,900 plan amendments and waivers for SCHIP and Medicaid programs. These waivers and amendments have expanded the opportunity for States to provide health coverage for some 1.8 million Americans and expand existing benefits to 4.5 million.

The CDC report also found that overall health insurance coverage has improved. The percentage of Americans without health insurance fell to 14.1 percent in 2001 from 15.4 percent in 1997. Non-Hispanic whites were the group most likely to have health coverage, with 10.3 percent lacking health insurance in 2001. In comparison, 17.3 percent of non-Hispanic blacks and 31.6 percent of Hispanics did not have health insurance.

The new report is based on 2001 data from the National Health Interview Survey, an annual survey conducted by CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics to assess key trends in health care, including access to health insurance. Other indicators include influenza vaccination, pneumococcal vaccination, obesity, leisure time physical activity, health status, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, HIV testing, personal care needs, having a usual place for health care and failing to obtain needed medical care.

The report also found that adults and children were more likely in 2001 than in previous years to have a usual place for health care –-86 percent of adults and 94 percent of children in 2001. However, there was also a growing number of Americans (from 4.2 percent in 1998 to 4.7 percent in 2001) who reported that they did not obtain needed medical care due to financial hardship.

In addition, the report shows that the annual percentage of older Americans who received a vaccination against influenza in the past year — which had been on the rise from 1997 to 1999 –- declined from 65.7 percent in 1999 to 64.3 percent in 2000, and to 63.0 percent in 2001 due to the delay in influenza vaccine available for the two recent seasons. At the same time, more older Americans are reporting having received a pneumococcal vaccination –- up from 42.4 percent in 1997 to 53.8 percent in 2001.

“Vaccinations are not only effective, but a cost-effective means of preventing disease and ensuring good health to citizens of all ages,” said CDC Director Dr. Julie L. Gerberding, M.D., M.P.H. “We need to do all we can to make it possible for our adults — just as we do for our children — to protect their health through vaccinations.

The report, “Early Release of Selected Estimates Based on Data from the 2001 National Health Interview Survey” can be viewed or downloaded at the NCHS home page. For more information on the survey and related data check the survey Web site at the NHIS home page.