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A record number of U.S. children were covered by health insurance in 2011, mostly due increases in the enrollment rates of public insurance, researchers say.
Michael Staley, a research assistant at the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire and a doctoral candidate at the University of New Hampshire, said the increase in insured children likely stems from policies enacted to increase participation in government-sponsored health insurance programs.
"In addition, we continue to see significant declines in private insurance and increases in public insurance, which reflects the economic and job market of 2011, four years after the beginning of the Great Recession," Staley said in a statement.
Between 2008 and 2011, the rate of private coverage among U.S. children decreased by more than 5 percentage points, while public rates increased by more than 9 percentage points, Staley said.
"While unemployment rates have declined since 2008, research shows that some individuals are taking jobs with no health benefits, with health benefits that are not available to dependents, or with unaffordable premiums. Therefore, many parents have turned to public programs such as Medicaid, the State Children's Health Insurance Program or other state programs," Staley said.
The rates of insurance coverage for children age 18 and under increased from 90 percent in 2008 to 92.5 percent in 2011. Rural places and central cities in the South and West experienced the greatest increases since 2008, Staley said.