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Health Insurance Among Low Income Fathers

Traditional needs-based public health insurance programs have focused on the “deserving poor,” a group typically consisting of children and pregnant women. As a result, men have been discriminated against by public programs such as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The recent CHIPRA law signed by President Obama on February 4, 2009 explicitly restates the current restriction for covering parents with CHIP funding. All pregnant women at or below 133% Federal Poverty Level (FPL) are eligible for Medicaid. Under CHIP, the eligibility threshold is as high as the level used to determine a child’s eligibility. Coverage for low income parents by Medicaid is tied to eligibility for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families which nationally averages approximately 41% FPL.

The present study characterizes low-income fathers. Certain characteristics are associated with a greater likelihood of having either private or public health insurance. Among these include employer offering insurance (RRR 2.04), full time employment (RRR 4.61), part-time employment (RRR 3.12), and married or cohabiting.

Other paternal characteristics put the father at risk for not having insurance. These notable items include being an immigrant, history of incarceration, income less than 100% FPL.


It is not surprising that low income fathers have difficulty obtaining health insurance. This article raises the concern that low income males, even those whose children have public health insurance, remain uninsured and are not often the subject of research interest. Researcher as well as policy makers need further study of and advocacy for low income parents especially fathers.

Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved. 20 (2009): 152–164.

Center for Children and Families. CHIPRA 2009 Overview and Summary. February 13, 2009.

Kaiser Family Foundation. The Medicaid Resource Book. July 2002.


Cedric K. Dark, MD, MPH

Cedric Dark, MD, MPH, FACEP
About Cedric Dark, MD, MPH, FACEP

Cedric Dark, MD, MPH, FACEP is Founder and Executive Editor of Policy Prescriptions®. A summa cum laude graduate of Morehouse College, Dr. Dark earned his medical degree from New York University School of Medicine. He holds a master’s degree from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. He completed his residency training at George Washington University. Currently, Dr. Dark is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine and a Health Policy Scholar in the Center for Medical Ethics & Health Policy at Baylor College of Medicine. He produces a health policy podcast for the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Dark’s commentary and opinions on this website are his own and do not represent the views of Baylor College of Medicine or the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Contact: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | YouTube | More Posts

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